Local churches adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

By Laurin Stroud

 

Since gathering in groups has been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local churches have found other ways to worship and spend time together.

Several churches, such as Kenton First Baptist and Dyer Cumberland Presbyterian, have gone to online services. Others like Rutherford Church of Christ hav taken a few weeks to reach out to other churches and help when needed.

“We have had streaming services for a few years,” Bro. Shawn Allred, pastor of Kenton First Baptist said. “In late March, we built a stage in our parking lot and started to offer ‘drive-in’ church and transmit over an AM/FM transmitter. Our services for May 24 and 31 will be ‘hybrid’ services with ‘drive-in’ services at 9:30 a.m. and open congregation at 11 a.m. We will abide all social distancing guidelines, and even offer additional seating arrangements. I would love to be back in full services by June 7.”

Dyer Cumberland Presbyterian is hoping to resume services on May 31.

“That is Pentecost Sunday,” Pastor Tony Smith said. “That service will be a Sunday morning service only, and we will slowly transition to a full schedule.”

Pentecost Sunday is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church.

Minister Joshua Mayo of Rutherford Church of Christ just started his ministry a couple weeks before the pandemic started.

“I am trying to adapt to a whole new congregation while navigating this pandemic,” Mayo said. “We are new to social media, and last Sunday [May 17] was our first time to stream an online service. We did meet in person but adhered to social distancing guidelines. I am hoping to keep the online streaming option open for the future.”

While they have found creative ways to continue corporate worship, churches are still missing the interaction between members and their communities.

Both Dyer Cumberland Presbyterian and Kenton First Baptist have a program where members reach out to each other, visiting and helping when needed.

Kenton First Baptist has given away over 225 free meals and around 200 bags of groceries. The church also did a “Social Distancing Egg Hunt” where they delivered eggs to individuals’ homes and placed them in the yard for children to hunt at a later time. Members have visited local nursing homes through windows and placed pink flamingos and outside decorations around the residents’ lawn.

“We just want the community to know that we are still here and are praying for them,” Allred said.

Dyer Cumberland Presbyterian has also had some fun while social distancing.

“We had a parade of cars that drove by several of our shut-ins’ homes and visited that way,” Smith said. “On May 24, we are planning a ‘drive through’ senior shower. Each graduating senior will have a table sitting outside and friends or family can drive through our parking lot and leave them gifts or well wishes on their table, and never leave their vehicle.”

Dyer Cumberland Presbyterian also has a blessing box on its front steps for the community to use as needed. “We will continue the blessing box as long as we can,” Smith said.

All pastors hope their communities can take away some positives from the pandemic.

“I hope that people will come out stronger because of this pandemic,” Allred said. “I hope they see the importance of church, family, coming together and worshipping, and knowing that things can be taken away tomorrow.”

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