UPDATED July 13, 2021: For a second straight week, Clear Creek Community Church in Texas was forced to hold worship services online due to a large COVID-19 outbreak that originated from its church camp.
It is unclear how many more individuals have been infected outside of the initial report of 125 from the camp who tested positive. Pastor Bruce Wesley confirmed in a statement last week that the church is facing a second wave of positive cases. According to reports, some of the infected cases have tested positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant. There were over 450 campers attending Clear Creek Community Church’s camp in June.
In its online worship service this past Sunday, Pastor Wesley prayed for all those who have suffered through the church’s outbreak. “Lord, we didn’t want to be in the news. Not for this. I mean, maybe for serving generously or for some extreme generosity…but not this,” Wesley prayed. “We ask for your mercy. We ask for your healing for all of those who became sick with this virus and for their families who’ve been caring for them as well. We pray for complete recovery so that people don’t have any lingering effects and we pray that there would be a stop…you would be a stop to the spread of this virus.”
Although many more have become sick, the church says it is unaware of any hospitalizations.
Clear Creek Community Church said they are hoping to return to in-person worship services this coming Sunday.
You can watch the online statement and message from Sunday below:
ChurchLeaders original article written on July 7, 2021 below:
‘Our Hearts Break’—TX Pastor Says 125 Campers Test Positive for COVID-19
More than 125 teens and adults who attended a late-June event in Galveston County put on by Clear Creek Community Church have tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials have confirmed that at least three cases involve the highly transmissible Delta variant.
This is the second coronavirus outbreak tied to a church camp this summer. Last month, at least 85 people tested positive for COVID-19 after attending The Crossing Camp in Quincy, Illinois.
Clear Creek Community Church’s Pastor: ‘Our Hearts Break’
Clear Creek Community Church, a five-campus interdenominational ministry headquartered in League, Texas, organized the camp for sixth- through 12th-graders. More than 400 campers and adult chaperones gathered for the five-day faith-based event.
Bruce Wesley, the church’s lead pastor, expresses sorrow about the outbreak’s widespread impact. In addition to those people who tested positive, he says, “hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp, and hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp.”
Wesley says he’s been informed about “a number of families where everyone got sick after camp,” he says, “and obviously that’s horrible. That breaks our hearts.” The pastor adds that “from the beginning of the pandemic,” all of Clear Creek’s campuses “have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols. We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus.”
Because of the outbreak, the church cancelled in-person worship services for July 4 and 7 at all its locations.
Health Officials: Outbreak Could Be a Research Opportunity
Because no other groups were at the camp and no attendees left the premises during the event, experts say the outbreak could provide an opportunity to learn more about the Delta variant. “We know when they were exposed, and we can see how well they’ve done and see how many people are breaking through,” says Dr. Phillip Keiser of the Galveston County Health Department (GCHD).
The Delta variant could explain why the virus spread “so rapidly” among campers, Keiser adds. “The Delta variant is highly contagious, more so than other strains, and people who are unvaccinated are at most risk.”
So far, the FDA has granted emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12 and up. Experts fear continued outbreaks among young people, especially in areas of the country with “patchwork” vaccination rates.
“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is still here, and we have to take precautions,” says Dr. Keiser. “In this outbreak, at least as of now, it appears most of the people who have tested positive are old enough to be vaccinated. These vaccines are safe, effective, and they offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community.”
Contact tracing continues throughout the county, with some lab results reportedly being delayed because of the recent holiday. Some of the church-camp cases involve self-reports, and at least six represent breakthrough cases, meaning patients were two weeks past their second COVID-19 vaccination. Officials urge anyone associated with the camp or its attendees to get tested and quarantine at home if they experience symptoms.