INDIANA — Sunday was the first day churches could hold in-person services after being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to governor Eric Holcomb. Community Fellowship Church in Lawrenceburg opened its doors, but service looked a little different.
To navigate through this time, pastor Paul Woodburn says his church is taking precautions before allowing their congregation back inside.
“We’re going to disinfect the entire room in between services and really encourage people to wear masks and to initiate a non-contact greeting,” Woodburn said.
They are also seating at 50 percent capacity, blocking off every other row in the sanctuary and asking worshipers to leave two empty seats between different families.
“We tried to balance out the risk and reward of when is it going to be safe to get together versus how long is too long to not meet and decided that we would follow the government’s lead and respect the government,” Woodburn said. “They have said it is time to do that as long as we follow these social distancing and hygiene things.”
On a typical Sunday, Woodburn’s congregation can average 120 people.
That number lowered to 40 people by the beginning of March. That’s when they switched to providing services virtually.
“I heard a lot of comments that people felt more connected because we were talking more often with one another over zoom. In a sense it was better and we want to continue to do that,” Woodburn said.
He is encouraging people — especially those who are in the at-risk population or do not feel safe — to stay home where you’ll still be able to watch the services through Youtube or Facebook.
“People either think we’re taking it too seriously or not seriously enough. We want people to know that we are doing our best to follow the social distancing guidelines,” Woodburn said.
Not every church in Indiana will be holding in-person services. While the state government is allowing it, it’s still suggesting churches continue remote services if possible.