Editor’s note: A post on a local Facebook page Saturday afternoon used a second-hand quote from Cullman physician Dr. Adam Harrison regarding in-person worship services without context or verification from Harrison himself. Sunday, Harris responded due to the heated debate that ensued as a result.
Below is a letter, in full and unedited, sent by Harrison to The Tribune Sunday evening:
As I have quietly performed my job as a physician over the last few months, trying to bring healing to my patients, I have witnessed my community slowly fall into the grip of this terrible virus that has been unleashed on my colleagues, patients, and friends. Much to my surprise, and compounding this depressing state, my wife announced over dinner that I have become the source of a heated debate unfolding over social media.
I usually try to distance myself from social media but some of the recent comments have been shared with me and I feel a need to respond. If it takes some members of the community taking shots at my integrity as a Christian, a physician, and a community member, then I will gladly take a stand if I can save just one person from getting this terrible virus and potentially dying.
Following in the footsteps of the famous radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, here is “The Rest of the Story”……
YES, I did say that I encourage pastors to move to on-line services. Jesus and I have worked things out and I know exactly where I will be going when He chooses to take me home.
I feel strongly that services should move online unless pastors can provide congregations with a safe manner in which to worship. And that has become more and more difficult as Covid19 spreads through our community.
I had the great pleasure of speaking to Brother Malcom Carter, Pastor John Bussman, Brother John Garrison, and Brother Raul Dominguez all of whom have taken great safety measures to protect their congregates. Brother John Garrison shared with me about his successful drive-up services and his attempts to separate his more high-risk members from large crowds. Pastor John Bussman made a point that especially stuck with me. He fears that, as a result of the pandemic, he and other pastors are losing members from their churches which could affect those members’ eternal salvation. As a Christian myself, I can only hope that those members will eventually find their ways back to their congregations. Please continue to worship and serve the Lord but please, do so safely.
Over the past weeks, I have seen my patients suffer from fear more so than at any other time during the pandemic. I write this to hopefully protect all members of the community and especially to protect my high-risk patients who have the greatest risk of losing their lives to this evil disease. This is what I wish:
I wish that I hadn’t had to say goodbye to one of my long-term patients who lost his battle with Covid19 last week and hear his widow sob on the phone. I wish that I didn’t have to call family members of patients hospitalized with Covid19 and hear their pleas to save their loved ones whom they are banned from seeing. I wish that I hadn’t had to convert my 4-year-old son’s birthday party into a drive-by party out of fear that I might be the source of passing a potentially deadly virus to his friends or their families. I wish that this community where I was born, raised, and to which I have returned to serve would please come together and consider safe worshiping practices. I wish you would consider doing curbside pick-up at restaurants and retail stores. And I wish you would consider not having that big football gathering, family reunion, or holiday party until we, as a community, start to see our Covid19 numbers significantly decline. Until we see a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel, we must limit our activities voluntarily. And yes, that includes going on-line for our worship services.
The medical professionals at CRMC have worked tirelessly fighting a disease for which, at this time, we do not have a definitive treatment. We are tired of trying to put on a brave face to reassure our patients heading to ventilators that they will be fine and will see their families again. We know too well that if you go on a ventilator with Covid19, your chances of coming off are a dismal 15%. We are tired and we have given about all we have in us. We need the help of the entire community. Please think twice before you walk into that retail store, restaurant, or house of worship. Wear your mask and skip the hugs and handshakes for a little while longer.
I realize that there are those of you who are in denial and feel it necessary to prove that Covid19 is hoax by running around the community without a mask or other precautions. For you and for those you endanger, my colleagues and I will be here to care for you, your family, or friends. I pray you are one of the fortunate patients and do not require aggressive medical interventions.
I pray that this message reaches just one listening ear in this wonderful community that my family and I call home. I pray for those who feel the need to attack my colleagues and I when we speak out to protect us all. I pray that God might bring to light that, when you voluntarily take measures to protect our at-risk population, you aren’t having your rights as an American stripped away. I pray that we, as a community, can soon get back to normal because the Lord knows that he has put about as much on our backs as we can handle.
Dr. Adam Harrison