How Ebola Took A Toll On One American Church
January 4, 2015 5:33 AM ET
By Anders Kelto
On a typical Sunday, the pews in Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. are almost full. But a few months ago, the large stone church with stained glass windows in northwest Washington, D.C. began looking rather empty. Roughly a quarter of the congregation — 50 people — had stopped showing up.
At first, Rev. John Harmon, the head of the church, wasn’t sure what was going on. Then he started getting phone calls from parishioners. “Some folks called to say, I’m not coming to church because I don’t know who’s traveling [to West Africa],” Harmon says.
The congregation at Trinity is an international crowd. More than 20 countries are represented, including several in West Africa. Reverend Harmon himself was born in Liberia before moving to the U.S. in 1982, when he was 18.
It turns out the fears of congregation members were unfounded — no one from the church was traveling to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. But some still worried the disease might somehow creep into the church.
At the same time, the church was doing its part to help fight Ebola. Members had raised more than $5,000 and donated medical supplies and protective equipment to West Africa.