Virtual Pews Fill Up As Churches Move to Online Services

New Jersey News Network Interview with Bishop John Schol on March 24, 2020.

Recommendations from the Interfaith Advisory Council

Update from the Interfaith Advisory Council

March 26, 2020 | GNJ News

Dear members and leaders within the Interfaith Advisory Council,

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order (EO) 107, which bolsters EO 104 and asks all New Jersey residents to stay at home until further notice. Gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events are to be canceled.

There were recent incidents in New Jersey (e.g., wedding and funeral), where the Governor’s guidelines were not appropriately met.

The Governor understands how EO 107 places further strain on your congregations but found that this escalation was necessary for the safety of all New Jerseyans. Since the announcement on Saturday, the number of individuals affected by this pandemic has grown, validating the need for this action. Most of you and your congregations have already taken appropriate measures to align with the Governor’s Executive Order. We thank you for your cooperation. In order to “flatten the curve” of this pandemic, we need 100 percent compliance. Please, if you have not yet done so, adjust your services to align with Executive Order 107 and help stop the spread of this terrible virus. The expectation is to either postpone services until further notice or utilize other resources, such as livestreaming capabilities, in order to continue services for your house of worship. If you are aware of a possible non-compliance violation of Executive Order 107, please report it to https://covid19.nj.gov/violation.

We have asked several IAC members to provide testimonials on how they are presently coping during this crisis. We encourage you to watch the linked video and read the statement below:

  • Video: https://vimeo.com/400749391/c56fff0ec6
  • Statement from Dr. Mohammad Qatanani, Imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC): “ICPC executive management and myself have canceled all of our activities including prayer. We have been communicating that through email and our social media platforms, including Facebook. We have canceled our in-person Friday Jummah prayer and now broadcast via social media. Our parking lot is closed, and no one can enter except essential employees to upkeep the Mosque and for maintaining online services and responding to phones.”

Additionally, New Jersey recently launched a COVID-19 rumor control and disinformation webpage at https://njhomelandsecurity.gov/covid19. The purpose of this page is to help you distinguish between the facts and rumors/disinformation regarding COVID-19 and will be updated as more information becomes available.

For your awareness, the New Jersey Department of Human Services has implemented several initiatives:

  • A crisis counseling line – 1-866-202-4357 (HELP).
  • Those with disabilities and access and functional needs can register at registerready.nj.gov. Individuals can text NJCOVID to 898-211 for information.
  • Please connect with your County Office of Emergency Management if you are willing to offer any volunteer support on response activities across the State.
  • If your facilities can be used as shelters or quarantined/isolation locations, please send an email to njeocresource@gw.njsp.org.

If you have any questions regarding E0 107 or any other topic related to the IAC, please contact Lieutenant John Paige and Detective Ehtasham Chaudhry.

Again, your cooperation and feedback have been immensely helpful during this pandemic, and we thank you in advance for your continued partnership and leadership.

We will continue to provide updates to our faith-based communities as they become available.

Best,

Communications Team
New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness
communications@njohsp.gov

609-584-4392