The Porte Ouverte Chrétienne answers questions about its gathering from February 17 to 21


[Update April 6, 2020 at 16 p.m.]

Public chat the church website, the Christian Open Door answers the questions put to them. We offer you their press release below.

THEchurch of the Christian Open Door de Mulhouse held a gathering from February 17 to 21. Coming from all over France and neighboring countries, hundreds of the faithful were, once back home, at the origin of a series of contaminations. The church now has to face many violent reactions.

Public chat the church website, the Christian Open Door answers the questions put to them. We offer you their press release below.

Why didn't you cancel your gathering from February 17th to 21st?

At this time, France is in phase 1 of the epidemic prevention plan with isolated proven cases only. The Directorate General of Health also informed, on February 21, all health professionals (see information) that "there is no active transmission chain in France".

No official directive had yet been given banning gatherings in France. Moreover, during this same period were held:

There was therefore no reason to even consider the possibility of canceling this event held at the Open Door every year for 25 years.

When did you first identify the presence of the virus in your community?

On Sunday March 1 at 16 p.m., the Regional Health Agency called us to warn that a family among the members of our church had tested positive for Coronavirus. After investigation, we learned that some members of this family, infected but without knowing it, had participated in our week of fasting from February 17 to 21: the Regional Health Agency was immediately informed of the possibility of contact cases.

It is clear that our gathering in a confined environment allowed the dispersion of the virus among the participants, and this, despite us. After days of screening, the church and its members were identified as the 2nd cluster in France.

We have suffered and are still suffering the full brunt of the effects of this virus.

What measures have been taken?

On Monday March 2, after a voluntary positive test of a second church member, Dr. Jonathan Peterschmitt, we immediately made the decision not to maintain our public gathering scheduled for Tuesday March 3. This was announced on all our media from 20 p.m. on Monday March 2. 

On Tuesday March 3, we made the choice to suspend all public activities that take place in the premises of the church and to encourage employees to telework.

Wednesday March 4, we announced the cancellation of the public service scheduled for Sunday March 8.

Then, following the prefectural decree of March 5, we have extended this suspension of our gatherings until March 18.

Un new order Ministerial of March 9, 2020 concerning gatherings of more than 1000 people, extended this suspension of all gatherings until April 15 inclusive.

How did you inform the participants in the week of February 17 to 21 of these contaminations?

This event is open to everyone and completely free. For logistical reasons, only children are subject to registration. This list of registrations was communicated to the ARS on Monday March 2.

Tuesday March 3, on the recommendation of the Regional Agencye of Health, a national appeal was launched to all those who attended our church, from February 17 to 24, through our communication media, the media and the health authorities in the person of Jérôme Salomon (Director General of Health).

Why not have applied the barrier gestures during your gathering from February 17 to 21?

Barrier procedures are strongly encouraged by health professionals in the event of an epidemic. Gold, the epidemic was not yet confirmed in France at the time of the gathering.

Public awareness campaigns on barrier gestures concerning Covid-19 began the week of March 1.

However, from Tuesday 25 February then during our Sunday worship service on March 1Seeing the number of participants showing signs of influenza, we strongly recommended to our parishioners present to stay away from their neighbors.

How many people in your congregation have been reached?

Since this is information related to medical confidentiality, it is not possible for us to provide a precise number. The number of cases was large enough for the medical personnel of the SAMU to ask people who attended our church and have symptoms to confine themselves as quickly as possible and for a period of 14 days, without performing a screening test.

However, we deplore several deaths of members of our community as a result of the virus.

Why is Pastor Thiebault Geyer asking for forgiveness on March 18?

The forgiveness of Pastor Thiebault Geyer expressed during the worship of Tuesday 18 March, has nothing to do with the responsibility of the church in managing the coronavirus. The title of his message was: “All concerned”. He stressed how remote the reality of the Coronavirus seemed to him when the virus was only raging in China. His awareness really began when relatives were reached. He begged forgiveness for considering numbers rather than human lives.

Why did you come together again on Sunday March 22?

No public meeting took place on March 22, 2020. On site, only 11 employees were present, each with the professional exemption in force. The ministerial decree of March 16 authorizing the opening of places of worship for less than 20 people has been scrupulously respected and verified by the police during an on-site check requested by our neighborhood.

Why did you not ask for the municipality's agreement for your video recording of March 22?

Ministerial decree did not ask. The latter advised the consultation of the Prefecture, which the regional representative of the CNEF did.

Our online services provide moral support for thousands of Internet users and our parishioners in confinement.

What is the state of play at the Open Door this Wednesday, March 25?

Before being a cluster, we are above all women and men affected by illness and bereavement. As of Wednesday March 25, 2020, we have 17 deaths within our community. Our church is in mourning, but also sad that we cannot pay them a final tribute and support the families.

Many members are still hospitalized or confined ill, but we are grateful to also see many come out of the illness starting with our senior pastor Samuel Peterschmitt, after a long period of convalescence.

In addition to the fact that our community is severely affected in its physical health, considered by many to be the start of the pandemic in France, our church and its members have received extremely violent verbal and written threats. This violence is certainly driven by the fear that drives many of our fellow citizens, but it is also fueled by false words and allegations.

As for the treatment of this false or partial information, we first appeal to the responsibility of the representatives of the State, whose vocation is to represent and protect all French people and their freedoms. We also appeal for the professional responsibility of the media. In a period where the credibility of their word is too often questioned, let everyone serve peace and truth, not a political or ideological interest leading to the stigmatization of minority communities.

What are the conditions for welcoming the public to your gatherings?

As part of our events, we systematically put in place the security elements necessary to welcome the public, namely: security service, health permanence, name registrations for minors. Our premises comply with ERP category V building standards, as evidenced by the last visit of the safety committee on November 19, 2019. A first aid service is provided on site.


To know more about the subject:

Faced with the "wave of violent reactions" against the Christian Open Door, the CNEF calls for "solidarity and vigilance"

Double penalty for the Christian Open Door of Mulhouse

La Porte Ouverte Chrétienne renounces its right to broadcast its services from the church

Thiebault Geyer, pastor of the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne in Mulhouse, asks for forgiveness

Released from the hospital, Samuel Peterschmitt addresses in a moving video message to the Christian Open Door Church

Coronavirus: The Christian Open Door Church calls to prayer on Sunday March 15

Coronavirus: The Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Mulhouse takes stock of the gathering at the source of contamination

Coronavirus: Cancellation of worship following confirmation of 7 cases at the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Mulhouse

COVID-19: Jonathan Peterschmitt, confirmed case of coronavirus, takes stock of symptoms and contamination

Multiplication of confirmed cases of coronavirus in connection with the gathering of the Mulhouse church

Coronavirus: Cancellation of worship following confirmation of 7 cases at the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Mulhouse

Recent articles >

Summary of news from March 23, 2023

outlined-grey clock icon

Recent news >