Churches work to balance safe worship, crowds and COVID-19

Churches working to contain spread of COVID

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Infectious disease doctors continue to express concerns about spikes in COVID-19 reports and point to places like schools and churches as sites where they’re seeing exposure cases.

Local church leaders say they’ve added stricter in person worship guidelines and changed how they serve the community in hopes of helping minimize spread.

“This is the best option we have right now to hear God’s word,” said Alan Taylor with First Baptist in Trussville.

COVID-19 has left churches very few options for worship service and a lot of room to get creative. Places like First Baptist in Trussville started to slowly let people back in to worship a few months ago. In addition to extra cleaning, they’ve spread services out to different parts of the campus and limited times for interaction.

“For our 10 a.m. service, we started to see that grow, so we added a location in our gym,” said Taylor. “(We) ask them not to come in until 15 minutes before the service starts, so they can go right to their seat.”

COVID-19 has also shaped how church leaders serve the community. Members usually welcome hundreds into the church for worship and a meal the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This year, however, cars lined up, meals were loaded into back seats, and the service is virtual as a safety precaution.

Leaders say the conversations that many school districts are weighing now about switching back to full virtual is a topic they discuss weekly, especially as they eye the numbers and hear from health officials.

“Had conversations with Jefferson County health officials because as a church body, we want to make sure we do the right thing,” said Taylor. “It’s something we talk about every week. If we get to a point where we can’t be safe here with social distancing, we’ll continue to look for other options and obviously virtual is one of them.”

Church leaders say they have a very large online participation and now that we are dealing with COVID-19 and don’t think most churches will ever go back to only offering in-person service.

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