By: KDKA-TV News Staff
HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Religious leaders joined Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday in asking Pennsylvanians to take safety precautions like moving services online this holiday season.READ MORE: TCV Community Services Becomes Affiliate Of Devereux Health
“After a difficult year like this one, I know that we all want to take comfort in our family and religious traditions during the holidays,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “But the truth is that COVID-19 is still as dangerous as ever right now, and the best thing we can do to protect our loved ones is to worship and celebrate at home this year.”
The governor called vaccines a “light at the end of the tunnel” but said Pennsylvanians still need to keep each other safe until a vaccine is approved and widely available.
Rev. Mitch Hescox of The Evangelical Environmental Network said it’s time to suspend in-person worship, calling places of worship one of the leading “hubs” of virus transmission.READ MORE: 3 People Displaced After Fire Breaks Out Inside Wilkinsburg Apartment Building
“As we begin our journey toward Christmas, it’s time to remember that love came down at Christmas. The best way to reflect the love of Jesus in this season is to love God with our entire being and love our neighbor. Loving God and loving our neighbor means keeping everyone safe,” said Rev. Hescox in a statement.
Other religious leaders echoed that call, encouraging people to move services online.
“Most people know that, during Hanukkah, we celebrate the dedication of the Macabees, who were willing to risk their lives to protect their faith. What many don’t know, however, was that these same Maccabees also considered it their sacred duty to change certain traditions in order to save lives,” Rabbi Daniel Swartz, spiritual leader of Temple Hesed of Scranton, said in a statement.MORE NEWS: Airbnb Says 'Anti-Party' Tools Are Working In Pittsburgh
And Rev. Linda Noonan, senior pastor at Chestnut Hill United Church in Philadelphia, posed the question “What Would Jesus Do?” and said she believes his answer would be “Worship online and love others from a safe distance.”