On Friday night, the bishops in a tri-county area of the Amish community had a meeting to discuss COVID-19 and their response to it.
Bishop Marvin Kauffman, of District 67-2, said they will abide by what the government mandates. People should stay home and limit gatherings such as funerals and weddings, he said. The bishop explained that people who are not closely related to a person who died or to the bride and groom should stay home.
Church is a different manner for now. On Sunday, the district had church as usual. There are 26 families in the district. They meet in each other’s homes for church, Kauffman explained.
“We’re not inviting other districts,” he said. “We’re encouraging people who are sick to stay home.”
Kauffman said the Amish districts will respect what the government mandates and each district will decide what they want to do, “but the church is the most important thing.”
The Amish forego modern technology for personal use, so, unlike other churches, they are unable to livestream or use social media to stand in the gap of not being able to meet.
Kauffman said it’s important to go to church to “hear God’s word, be encouraged and be led in the right direction.” It’s also good to encourage younger people, he added. “It’s a body of Christ.”
As for himself, Kauffman said, “I’m not afraid of the coronavirus.” He knows he can get it and possibly die from it. “But it’s God’s way of taking me out of it and I’m not scared at all,” he said.
What the bishop, who was making cabinets in his workshop Saturday, said he is concerned about is the world’s response to the virus — the fear.
“Stay calm and if one of us dies from it, it’s God’s plan,” he said. “It’s the trying of our faith to see what we’re really made of.”
People wanted to take God out of government, office buildings, schools, he said, “but maybe we needed him after all. We got arrogant.”
Kauffman said that it’s in times like these that the church needs to be together more than ever. “The church is about getting together and God’s word.”
And for everyone, he said, “Stay calm and don’t let fear rule you. Fear comes from the devil, not God. God always takes care of his people. Even through tribulation, God is always there and ever present. That’s where the strength is in getting us through.”