Pastors’ guidance from 1918

Church signage during the COVID-19 pandemic. photo courtesy of Getty Images

When the flu pandemic hit Dallas in the fall of 1918, almost every person living in Dallas was a churchgoer.

Closing churches caused people’s social and spiritual lives to go cold, and on Sunday, Oct. 20, 1918, when the City’s churches and schools had been closed for one week, Oak Cliff pastors sent this message to our neighborhood.

It was published in the Dallas Morning News and signed by Wallace Bassett, G.M. Gibson, L.D. Haskins, C.C. Young and Glenn L. Sneed.

“First, we wish to say that we are in thorough sympathy with the health authorities and the mayor in their efforts to combat the influenza epidemic and will lend them all the assistance possible.

“While there may be some services held on the church lawns today, yet for the benefit of those who remain in their homes, we suggest the following program: 11 a.m., observe the siren call to prayer and read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7, inclusive. For sunset vesper, read Psalms 1, 8, 23; silent prayer.

“While we may not be permitted to assemble in our accustomed places of worship, let us remember that in our homes or anywhere people lift up their hearts in reverence and devotion, that God hears and honors that prayer.

“Let us pray for the allied cause and for the freedom of humanity, for our boys in the homeland and those ‘over there,’ for the early passing of the influenza epidemic, for the dying, sorrowing and suffering ones of the earth; for the individual, state and national cleansing from sin and for divine inspiration, and guidance in the hour of the world’s supreme trial.”