Church leaders hold virtual summit to discuss how to get their communities through COVID-19 pandemic

Data shows minority communities may be disproportionally affected by COVID-19.

While anyone can be infected, a larger portion of African Americans could die.

It's something members of the President's task force brought up earlier this week.

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And it's why local church leaders are trying to send a message to the community.

The African American church community addressed a number of topics during a virtual summit Thursday.

More than 400 church leaders from across the country took part, including several pastors from right here in North Texas.

The gathering of clergy members targeted subjects that included government stimulus aid for churches with full and part time employees.

Also, with no timetable identified as to when in-person services will resume, there was discussion about how to keep congregants cared for, engaged, and encouraged.

The pastors of St. Paul United Methodist Church and St. Luke Community United Methodist in Dallas gave presentations.

The most impactful topic involved how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting black communities in terms of deaths.

St. Paul United Methodist Pastor Richie Butler said an initiative he’s leading is called “We Need to Survive.”

“Part of this campaign, move to the last slide, was to really provide what we call some common sense talking points and a simple message that we need to convey to our people that hanging out, social gathering, just cease with all of those things because your life or somebody else's life could be on the line because we’re not adhering to these social gathering mandates,” Butler said.

Butler went on to say the church’s mission is not only to feed the flock, but to protect the flock.

All of the presenters agreed that digital interaction with congregants should not only continue, but expand to various ministries, noting that job loss and complacency can breed depression.

Pastor Michael Bowie, of St. Luke Community UMC in Dallas, added that courage and the church embracing new ways to connect with people during this pandemic is major.

RELATED: Interactive map of Texas COVID-19 cases