Bishop who preached at Prince Harry, Meghan's wedding says 'we are doing God's will by not going to church' during coronavirus pandemic

Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, spoke to "GMA."

"This is one time when I believe that, frankly, we are doing God's will by not going to church," Curry told ABC News' T.J. Holmes in an interview that aired Friday on "Good Morning America." "In this pandemic, we are being called to show mercy and compassion, to love our neighbor."

Pastor Tony Spell, of Louisiana's Life Tabernacle Church, for example, says the right to assemble is God given. Even though he's faced charges for defying the governor's orders for people to stay home and not assemble in large groups, he's still holding massive gatherings, including last weekend when more than 1,200 people showed up to his Palm Sunday service.

"I'm hungry spiritually," said Tim Hampton, a parishioner at Life Tabernacle Church. "I'm not scared of this virus and if it's my time it's my time. Life goes on."

Pastors like Spell, and some governors, have argued that church is an essential business that should remain open.

Curry says church is absolutely an essential business, but not one that requires you to show up in person, adding that being "physically in [church] in the middle of a pandemic is not essential."

"We can worship at home. We can pray at home," he said. "I've been in church every Sunday, just not physically in a building, but I've been on my little iPad and watched on TV."

"My wife and I sat down in our den the other Sunday and I said, 'Well, where are we going to church today?,' and we just kind of thumbed around until we found a service, and we watched service on TV," he said.

Curry's Holy Week sermons are available on the Episcopal Church's website.

The Episcopal Church also plans to broadcast Easter Sunday service at Washington National Cathedral live on the church's website and Facebook page and on Curry's Facebook page.

"There won't be people packed in church ... and yet, it's gonna be Easter anyway," Curry said. "And the truth is, on that first Easter, there weren't folk packed in a church. There weren't trumpet sounds."

"There was no great occasion. There was just a little woman named Mary Magdalene who loved Jesus so much that she got up early in the morning and went to the tomb, just to make sure he had a proper funeral, as you will. And when she got there, she discovered that he wasn't dead. He was alive," he said. "That's Easter. If we rediscover that, it doesn't matter what hats we wear. It doesn't matter whether you have new or old clothes. It doesn't even matter if we can't physically be together again."

"When we know that God is alive, even in this pandemic, that God could conquer death, then God can help us conquer this virus," he said.

For people concerned about not being in-person at church, Curry pointed out that staying home means you are performing a central tenet of religion, helping thy neighbor. The novel coronavirus is spread through person-to-person contact so health officials have called for Americans to follow strict social distancing.

"This is a time to do unto others as you would have them do unto you," Curry said. "When my behavior affects somebody else's behavior, it's just time for us not to be in public gatherings."

"We will be together when it is safe for everybody to do it," he said. "We will be together and until that time, we've got to find other ways to connect."

What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: coronavirus explained
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  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: coronavirus map