Churches adjust services for coronavirus

Published 7:00 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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With non-work gatherings of 25 or more people now banned for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 outbreak, that cancels out most types of events or services. Local churches are working to adjust.

“We are social beings, and we like to be around one another and encourage one another and catch up with what’s going on in one another’s lives,” Langdale United Methodist Church Pastor Rusty Tate said. “This is hampering most everybody.”

Langdale and other churches have decided to move their services to online only, so the parishioners can still hear the sermon and teachings while staying safe at their own homes. Tate and some of the praise team will hold service at an empty church, but the service will be broadcast on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. EST.

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“We’re worshiping, and we’re inviting people to take a picture of their family gathered around their computer with their Bibles or a cup of coffee or however they want to do, post it on our Langdale United Methodist Facebook page, just as an encouragement to other people as we try to adapt, help and encourage one another,” Tate said.

At Happy Valley Baptist Church, pastor John Samanie and his deacons are reaching out to senior parishioners, seeing if they need help.

“We’re reaching out to our senior adults and telling them to stay home,” Samanie said. “We’re bringing food to them.”

Happy Valley will also try to broadcast its Sunday service on Facebook Live. It is also thinking about having a service outside, so everyone can spread out but still be together as a community.

“We’re not gonna be fearful, and we’re not going to let fear control us,” Samanie said.

“We’re just gonna adapt to the situation and reach out to love and serve folks.”

Both pastors are trying to find ways to keep their parishioners safe while spreading the lessons of the Bible.

“We’re looking for continued ways how we can connect with people and encourage people and remind people that Jesus is with us, and he’s continuing to encourage us,” Tate said. “He is present and he’s greater than this coronavirus.”