Newark church rejoices during reopening homecoming

The move, taken after the number of cases has continually reduced, and mask mandates have gradually lifted, still has its limits. Only 140 worshipers are allowed in the church at one time, well below its 700-person capacity. Masks are still required in the church, and the virtual service option that began even before the pandemic took hold is still in place. 

However, there was little limit to the joy experienced by those who did attend, with church members swaying in their seats and dancing in the aisles while the band played and the reverend preached.

"I missed this joint. Most of all, I missed the people," said Monroe Johnson, a Newark resident and longtime member of the church community. "That's what church is about." 

"The best thing about being here is being able to be here. That pandemic didn't get me," said Carol Davis, 82, a retired post office worker. "I'm full of life, and I've got a lot to do." 

"With all that's going on in Ukraine, and all the hate going around in this world, we need God," said Vondra Harris, standing alongside her daughter Naadirah. "We need faith. We need each other. We need love."

During his sermon, Slaughter referred to both the work of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the President, who has played a prominent role in the fight against the pandemic, and the need for his faith community to address their mental health, particularly in light of the increased isolation and depression stemming from COVID. 

"A lot of folks say don't go get help because you're not crazy. No, that's not it. You go get help to keep from going there," Slaughter said. "I serve a God that created science, that created medicine, that created Anthony Fauci. How can we say God created the world but exempted science and medicine? Science matters." 

What matters most to Slaughter in the weeks ahead as he reopens his church is keeping his congregation alive, well, and together as the world tries to figure out what the new normal is going to be. 

"My relationship with God has been more in sync than it's ever been. I'm a people person, and I love having contact again with people. There's nothing like it." Slaughter said. "Faith got us through this. And it will keep us going forward."

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-22 03:30:02 -0700