Some survivors blamed the church leaders; others accused the person who had invited the sick visitor. The church was placed under quarantine, closed for services during the greatest period of anguish and loss. Members scattered as Ebola raged through their city and shook their faith.
“Ebola brought problems in churches; it brought problems in relationships,” Philip Moseray, the assistant pastor, told the faithful. “But God is in control, and we’re not giving up. We are trying to rebuild. We are trying to overcome.”
The events at United God Is Our Light were repeated in countless other churches across West Africa’s Ebola belt.
The sick, unable or unwilling to seek treatment, were sometimes brought for prayers inside churches, which became sanctuaries for them. But the practice also ended up spreading the virus.
It is impossible to know how many church officials or members died of Ebola from such contact, but the numbers are high, according to the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, the country’s main umbrella group for Christian and Muslim institutions.