RFI President Eric Patterson Discusses COVID Impact on Churches on Pilgrim Radio

April 14, 2023

RFI President Eric Patterson was recently interviewed on Pilgrim Radio’s “His People” segment to discuss the far-reaching effects of the COVID pandemic and raise questions for churches to reflect on three years later. 

There are vital lessons to be learned from these years, Patterson argues, and he urges churches to look back at what happened and how they responded: “If we turn our back on three years of effects at home and abroad – including on our religious organizations, in our churches, in the faith life and experience of young people; if we’re not taking a moment to reflect, learn, and act, I think we’re really missing an opportunity.” 

Now is the time for churches to take stock not only of what they did, but what they would do if something similar happened again, Patterson says. In particular, he encourages them to examine whether their responses to COVID were rooted in love or fear, posing the fundamental question:

Were the decisions of your denomination, your pastor, your leadership team, the elders of your church or in your ministry, made out of a spirit of fear, including fear of government; or were they decisions based on love – love of God and love of neighbor? I think that’s the right prism for thinking about the types of action that were taken and not taken. 

Patterson was also asked about his article in WORLD titled “COVID Questions for America’s Churches,” and to identify the major challenges churches faced during this time. He noted the difficulties of discerning the threat of the virus, and the government pressure on churches to restrict their meetings. 

“Government showed a lack of partiality, or rather partiality to everyone else, except religious people,” Patterson commented. He pointed to the obstacles churches had to overcome to reopen even when other establishments like bars and restaurants were serving their customers. He also cited the example of attacks on Jewish congregations in New York — both acts of violence and government regulation — based on faulty accusations that they were causing the virus to spread. 

Listen to the full interview here: RFI President Eric Patterson on ‘His People.’