The associate pastor of the church associated with Pulaski County's first confirmed COVID-19 case addressed the situation in a Facebook post made this past weekend.
Aaron Wilson, associate pastor at Word Ablaze Church in Pulaski County started by saying he wanted to "address some issues that people seem to have with our church right now."
Little detailed information was provided to the public through government sources initially, after it was announced that a 59-year-old Shopville woman was the first locally to be confirmed to have COVID-19.
According to Shawn Crabtree, executive director of the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, the woman had gone to church the previous Sunday, March 15. Health department officials had asked the congregation of 40 as well as 10 other individuals the woman had "close contact" with to self-quarantine as a result.
After community chatter about the congregation in question belonging to Word Ablaze Church spread and attention was drawn to the place of worship, Wilson was compelled to make a post addressing various talking points.
Wilson said he spoke to pastor Danny Ray Reynolds after the Commonwealth Journal made contact regarding the post, who said the church wasn't ready to give a statement at the current time. Wilson did give his blessing to report on his own post, however.
"It's rumored that we have tried to cover up our issue with the coronavirus outbreak in our church," stated Wilson in the post made on Saturday, March 28. " What we actually did is that, when there were confirmed cases of the virus in our church, these individuals, when contacted by the Health Department, gave as an extensive list of others that they had come in contact with as they possibly could so that the Health Department could in turn contact those other people. And since there was no influx of the greater community in the services (3-11, 3-15, and 3-18, our last service) leading up to the confirmed cases, there was no need to post a public statement about our situation.
"We have also had reports of people that attend Word Ablaze disregarding quarantine orders, etc.," he added. "We cannot make anyone in our church do anything."
However, Wilson continued that the leadership of Word Ablaze Church "strongly advises its members" to abide by any quarantine order, as well as policies of social distancing, restricted travel, "and any other means of preventing the spread of this virus that are in your power."
Wilson also said that "rumors are circulating" that the church intends to hold services this coming week, despite the governor's order banning such gatherings as a reaction to the COVID-19 situation.
"There have been no discussions concerning this whatsoever," said Wilson. "Services will resume when it is in the best interests of the safety of the people who come to our services and not before."