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Did / does your church take COVID seriously? What denomination are you?


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We have the option to go in person or be at home. Today’s sermon was amazing. It was about staying focused on what’s important. Do you disagree politically? Do you disagree about Covid? It’s okay to disagree. It’s not okay to be so fixated on differences on non-doctrinal issues that we let that thing take over as primary importance over remembering we’re brothers and sisters and we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. 
 

I loved it. There was zero judgement about wearing masks or not wearing masks. It was about remembering our identity and how that plays out in our lives. I often feel in the minority in willingly wearing masks out and probably even more so in Christian circles. I don’t feel the need to impress my views on everyone and I appreciated that other people heard they ought not either and I know a church which is close to splitting. 

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Yes.  United Methodist.

We’ve been online only since the beginning.  The only people in the building are the pastor, song leader, pianist, and the people running the tech.  All masked and distanced (Edit:  the pastor takes her mask off in the pulpit, and the song leader takes his off to sing.)  We’ve had some outdoor activities and meetings, masked and distanced.  
 

I’ve mentioned before that our congregation has been very active for years in Imagine No Malaria.  There’s no way we’re going to be a source of community spread of a deadly disease if we can help it.

Interestingly, attendance (on Zoom) and giving are both up over last year. 

Edited by Danae
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Yes. Episcopalian. At this point, only 25 people or fewer can attend in person. Mask wearing is required. One soloist, No congregational singing. Social distancing. Online option.

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Yes, online only since the beginning.  We attend a UU church. They're running so much great stuff online, I wish I would have been paying closer attention since the beginning.  I'm signed up for a zoom cook along this week through our church.   

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Yes. Presbyterian Church in America.  Online service available, in church is masked, no singing, every other pew blocked off for distancing. Lord's Supper is taken using the little packets of wafer and wine/juice; one person from each family group walks to front of church to get them. No offering taken other than a locked box at the back (or online giving which is also normal). 

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Not seriously enough, which is why we're moving our membership to another congregation within our denomination (LC-MS). COVID-19 won't be forever, but the attitudes that have come out during it helped show us that it really wasn't the best place for us.

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Yes. SBC. Not all of our members are happy with how seriously we have taken it, and we've even lost a couple of longstanding families over it. But we have taken it seriously from the beginning. Thankful.

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Our church provides live online service. They followed required health measures, but as measures were lifted, they went back to regular activities. They have always had congregational singing with no masks. I think it’s general baptist? Our pastor encouraged people to return to services and member meetings and Sunday school last year. Recently, he was introducing new members and said it was okay to give hugs while greeting. Many of the leadership has had covid, with no serious cases. Leadership does ask people to be respectful and love each other, and not let the virus divide us. 
 

My family has not been in the building for over a year, and we have no plans on going soon. 

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Nondenominational Christian. Masks required, spaced seating.  New cleaning measures in place; coffee bar closed. 😉 Most of the leadership has been vaccinated.

We were outdoors until it got too chilly (now indoors). Online services still available (were online only for 6 months at the start of it all). 

Edited by alisoncooks
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Yes. Catholic. 
 

Masks required. Over the nose even.  Ushers seat people at least six feet apart. Ushers control the flow for communion keeping spacing between families. Dismissal is also done pew by pew by ushers keeping space between families. Enhanced cleaning procedures. Hand sanitizer at entrances and right before communion. Live streaming of all church services and masses with no pressure to attend live.

I have the impression things are getting ready to loosen up as people become vaccinated. It seems like that is what is going to determine loosening up the restrictions. A lot of churches in my area are fairly anti-vax but our church is not like that. I don’t think our pastor would tell people specifically to get vaccinated but we have included prayers for the development and distribution of vaccines all along. 

Edited by teachermom2834
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I don't currently attend church. My family's non-denominational church does not take Covid seriously; therefore, no one in my family has attended in months when they dropped the online service ( which is ironic since it used to be streamed online prior to the pandemic, but now? nope). I doubt DH will return; the kids may go back to the youth group. 

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31 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Title says it all. I'm talking mainly about your local church, not your denomination. 

I'll start: No. Wesleyan.

I’ve never heard of Wesleyan, just Methodist. What region of the Us are you?

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Yes. Catholic. Online Mass with drive-through Communion afterward since March. This summer they opened up in-person Mass but there's no singing, pews are taped off for distancing and very limited numbers. Like most of the parish, we haven't gone back in person. The online Mass is the only one with music (just 2-3 vocalists, masked and well-distanced across the church with separate mics and cameras). We'll continue online for the foreseeable future.

The parish school now has both virtual and in-person options, with masks and clear partitions. From what I hear it's gone well so far. I like that the parish has prioritized reopening the school. We also have an outdoor drive-through food pantry. 

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Foursquare. Taking it mostly seriously. 

There were no in-person services for months. They recently opened up for in-person services, with distancing and masking. The seats are very empty compared to how we all used to be sardined in. (I can see this when watching the online service, as I haven ‘t been to church in person since early March 2020).

I find it bizarre that the singers in the band at the front take off their masks and so does the pastor when he preaches. That is a deal-breaker for me. Otherwise, masks and distance for everyone.

But I do believe their hearts are in the right place and they think they ‘re doing everything properly. I wish the people in the front would mask, though. We have not gone back in person, partly because of how they handle that. They implemented lots of cleaning around the building and updated the filters in the heating/cooling system. They started broadcasting the service online.

I will be happy to attend that same church again after everyone in my home has his/her vaccine. Currently, we watch online.

Edited by Garga
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No, yes, no ....kind of?  Baptist At first we shut down which was good but took a LOT of discussion and convincing for the pastor to agree with.  Then he got on board.  Everything canceled until June then we started back with just morning worship.  No mask mandate at that time so our family was the only one masking then when mask mandate went into effect masking required.  One family refused despite the leaders speaking to them.  It was hard but I just stayed way away from them.  They ended up moving away in the fall so problem solved.  

We've been doing congregational singing which I tried to stop but failed.  All wear masks when singing so I figure it's as good as it can be.  Almost whole congregation has now been vaccinated (at least the first shot) except my kids.  Our pastor is amazed and distressed by the stories of churches in our area which are not being careful.  I'm so relieved at how his attitude changed so quickly on the issue.  

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SBC and meh.  Masks are.required by state mandate but they won't entire but have pleas to follow the rules.  Seating follows social distancing but no guidance or enforcement at entering, exiting, congregating before and after.  They are singing and doing childcare which I would skip.    Our pastor is 28 and took this his first job just a couple months before covid struck.  He seems to want to take it seriously but some of the other elders/deacons are on the other side.  The do stream all services and we are not going back until fully vaxxed. 

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22 minutes ago, lauraw4321 said:

I’ve never heard of Wesleyan, just Methodist. What region of the Us are you?

Indiana, but it is a worldwide church.

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Yes, my church has taken it seriously. I go to a non-denominational church that is one of many church plants of a non-denom mega-church in my area. Each church is independent, but the pastors have a "consortium" to discuss things and encourage each other. The church closed and did live online services for months. When they opened again, they required masks, did not have children's classes, provided hand sanitizer, asked for no contact, used chairs that could be cleaned between services, and had chairs in small family groupings throughout the room. They closed again for a short time when several staff members had been exposed to Covid. The pastor made videos asking people to wear masks and "care about our community, especially those who are vulnerable" They have continued live online services and had several parking lot services last summer as well as drive through communion and prayer. The weekly food pantry became a drive through pantry. Youth group was online until this month and they require masks. The church is slowly opening up more things (Sunday School, youth meetings, small groups), but continues to require masks and distancing.

I'm in the same situation as Garga where the singers and pastor remove their masks and we will continue to watch online until we can get vaccines.

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United Methodist. We have not met in person for a year because of a regional mandate. Our specific congregation seems unlikely to last through this, as it was already struggling. 

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Our old church was very divided among the congregation. The leadership promoted and followed COVID recommendations from the beginning, which were strict here in NJ immediately. But they received a lot of complaints every week from about half the church. We have since left, for many reasons. The church we attend virtually has taken great safety measures and it seems that the congregation is on board. At least, we don’t see them making announcements that would indicate otherwise and we can see when viewing the service that people are masked and very spread out.  

Edited by kristin0713
ETA - both churches are non-denominational
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We are involved with three churches. All had zero in person services at first but eventually opened doors. 
 

1 - Non-denominational Christian: yes, highly responsible, younger average age congregants take it seriously and comply. Masks, staggered seating, limited irl services. I have attended a couple of services here in the last few months and feel safe - large high ceilings and limited attendance. In lieu of a full worship team there’s one singer and one preacher who are over 20’ away from nearest attendee and remask immediately upon end of singing/speaking. 
 

2 - Non-denominational Christian: no, pastoral offers and suggests masks but has never required it. High degree of noncompliance. No staggered seating. Large worship group with 6-8 unmasked musicians/singers close to the attendees. This has been very discouraging because some of my family have many friends here. 
(I’ll add here  knowledge of another nondenominational Christian church:no that many of our school’s families attend that basically dropped any pretense of mask wearing at all, holding regular group activities and posting on social media.)
 

3 - EFCA: yes. Terrific mitigation measures in place for Sunday services. Well spoken reasoning behind the need for protecting one another. Youth activities are another story, though, revealed by social media posts of people in close quarters sharing food. I have heard that a number of families left because of the mask requirements. I am curious to see who is missing when outdoor services resume. 
 

#s 2&3 I currently just listen to via podcast. I think it’s been hard for the pastors. I mean, it shouldn’t be hard to just follow and enforce the county guidelines, adapting as necessary to comply. What I mean is, they’ve taken a steady beating from congregants who haven’t wanted to comply. My own personal bailiwick is how my own home church is going to come out of it - back to revved-up programming or a new way of programming that is more outward/community/true needs focused? Time will tell. My greatest fear is that we will all come out of this and return to business as usual, as though God did not just blow a huge wind to clear a path toward more authentic ways of doing life together as believers. 
 

 

Edited by Seasider too
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Yes.  Catholic.  Social distancing.  Masks required. Personal books for readings and songs provided that you take with you each time.  Sprayed down/sanitized between Masses.  Extra masses added to help with social distancing. No holy water fonts. Priests and ministers use hand sanitizer.

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Our church, a member of the Evangelical Covenant denomination, has been extremely cautious. They have not offered live services since March of 2020. The sanctuary was open for people to watch the digital service together last summer, with social distancing and masks strictly required. We have had a few outdoors events but other than that, everything has been on Zoom. 

Because we have a medically fragile child, we have also been quite cautious — but I am starting to see how this extended closure is hurting my other kids, in particular. DS#2’s church friends were his primary social group since he is homeschooled. He hasn’t seen them in person in several months, and only on a few occasions. DS#1 has totally disengaged from youth group — he has no interest in Zoom youth group. 

I feel like the church could have taken better advantage of summer to have more in-person events. I also feel very isolated and really miss our community. Other churches in our area have been open safely for months, following strong Covid precautions. DS#1’s school has been in session, in person, with precautions, every day this year. Vaccinations are in full force here and with the weather improving, there is another window of opportunity for safe outdoor activities. 

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Very seriously from the beginning. LCMS. The young members are in their 50's--LOTS of old members and we would all feel horrible if someone caught Covid at church. And our elder team is 3 engineers (science-minded, logical) and we're in a state/town that has taken the virus seriously.

-March 8, 2020 was the last in-person, regular service.
-Zoom, drive-in, and eventually YouTube livestream services.
-In fall, we let up to 25 people into the building for worship (maybe 1/3-1/2 our normal attendance), service still live-streamed. You had to sign up online to go (for tracing if necessary). Removed a lot of pews, set up air-filters, opened doors, small tables by every pew with the communion elements, masks required, no singing, no congregating before or after, dismissed one group at a time. Zoom Sunday school .
-Livestream only from Nov-Feb (surge)
-Just starting the up to 25 in -person again.

 

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Yes.  LCMS Lutheran

Masks required, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, half of the pews removed for social distancing, attendance is limited to 75 per service by reservation (10% of what we can hold in the sanctuary).  We’re dismissed one row at a time after service, no congregating inside.

Online streaming is ongoing and all Bible studies and classes are held online.

Edited by WoolC
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Yes. Episcopalian. Today was the first Sunday they had an option to be inside for the service (must reserve in advance, limited number of people seated in pods of no more than 5 people, masks required). We were all online through the summer and then at some point in the fall they started doing Sunday mornings outside for a limited number of people (masked, distanced). Everything's still broadcast online, and I don't imagine we'll be back in person until everyone in the family is vaccinated and/or numbers are very, very low. 

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1 hour ago, BlsdMama said:

It’s okay to disagree. It’s not okay to be so fixated on differences on non-doctrinal issues that we let that thing take over as primary importance over remembering we’re brothers and sisters and we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. 

I loved it. There was zero judgement about wearing masks or not wearing masks. It was about remembering our identity and how that plays out in our lives. I often feel in the minority in willingly wearing masks out and probably even more so in Christian circles. I don’t feel the need to impress my views on everyone and I appreciated that other people heard they ought not either and I know a church which is close to splitting. 

In practicality, what this seems to mean around me is that people don't have to care about others. When does that change? Does it change if the disease is AIDS? Ebola? What if random people were just walking around smacking people? Oh wait, they are doing this to Asians...I don't get what this means in practicality. 

So, my church is not taking it seriously. It's an SBC church. Their website says masks are required, but pictorial proof shows that they are not masking. It says there is an online service if you don't want to mask, but it's the maskers that stay home. Worst of all, lots of people (even after I've blocked a ton), like to post memes and sanctimonious crap about being afraid to live means you might as well be dead, etc. 

This kind of thinking in my area truly means shut up and don't talk about science, how your behavior affects others, or about how the church's website is lying.

This is taking a side. Ironically, I think they have lost some people for being too strict, which makes zero sense.

We don't plan to go back. Not sure where we can go that is going to be much different, but we're researching some options.

 

1 hour ago, sangtarah said:

Our church provides live online service. They followed required health measures, but as measures were lifted, they went back to regular activities. They have always had congregational singing with no masks. I think it’s general baptist? Our pastor encouraged people to return to services and member meetings and Sunday school last year. Recently, he was introducing new members and said it was okay to give hugs while greeting. Many of the leadership has had covid, with no serious cases. Leadership does ask people to be respectful and love each other, and not let the virus divide us. 
 

My family has not been in the building for over a year, and we have no plans on going soon. 

See, I don't get how the bolded is anything other than drivel when they are encouraging people to hug. That is not a middle ground.

28 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

My own personal bailiwick is how my own home church is going to come out of it - back to revved-up programming or a new way of programming that is more outward/community/true needs focused? Time will tell. My greatest fear is that we will all come out of this and return to business as usual, as though God did not just blow a huge wind to clear a path toward more authentic ways of doing life together as believers. 

Well said.

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Yes, I guess so.  Lutheran.  They closed all together for some time.  Now they live stream all services for those of us who don't want to exchange breath with other parishioners.  They require masks and rope off pews for distancing.  Overflow is not allowed into the sanctuary.  They do have singing, and the one time I attended (for my kids' Confirmation), I found it amusing how they thought masks were going to do anything when the breath goes out all sides of the masks during singing.  But whatever.

I don't love it 100%, but I can't think of too many ways they could do it better under the circumstances.

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1 hour ago, Danae said:

Yes.  United Methodist.

We’ve been online only since the beginning.  The only people in the building are the pastor, song leader, pianist, and the people running the tech.  All masked and distanced (Edit:  the pastor takes her mask off in the pulpit, and the song leader takes his off to sing.)  We’ve had some outdoor activities and meetings, masked and distanced.  
 

I’ve mentioned before that our congregation has been very active for years in Imagine No Malaria.  There’s no way we’re going to be a source of community spread of a deadly disease if we can help it.

Interestingly, attendance (on Zoom) and giving are both up over last year. 

Yes. Our zoom attendance has been much higher than the session thought-  lots of new people too.  And our church has had increased pledges too.  

And we just do zoom church and will continue until we have a separate service w traditional music too.  ( We have no problem w good praise bands but ours is awful and one thing that definitely brings bad thoughts to my mind is awful music- I cannot tolerate services w awful music)... And zoom means it is so much easier for me while I have a portable wound vac that can start beeping at any time, not something I want happening in church.

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Yes.  ELCA Lutheran.  Still meeting only outdoors.  We also stream the services and do Bible study and such over Zoom.  

Edited by Terabith
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We are split with some laugh it off, others take it seriously and some more middle road.  Thankfully  we do have a policy of complying with the law unless it absolutely unquestionably goes against something biblical so it hasn’t been too massive an issue.

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Very seriously. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  World wide church.  All services were suspended world wide in March.  At some point (summer time?) places began going back depending on local restrictions.  Masks required and all services are streamed for those who wish or need to remain home.  We will have our third Church wide general conference in two weeks and it will be streamed only with only a few (masked) leaders distanced in a room at a time.  All music will be from previously recorded conferences.  

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We recently moved, so had not joined, but the church we were attending has taken COVID very seriously.  In the fall, an outdoor service, with very limited pod seating with masks and no singing, was held.  But, then numbers started going up locally and that was stopped.  There have been no in-person services, meetings, prayer groups--anything for a year now.  This is an Episcopal church.  The rector was the first person in our county to be diagnosed with COVID at the beginning of Lent 2020. 

From what I have experienced, they have done a very good job of taking COVID seriously and shutting the building down but have done a very poor job of ministering to the ocmmunity and being light to the world.  The church just looks like an empty, deserted, lifeless building.  At Christmas it was the darkest building in the neighborhood--no nativity scene, no Joy to the World banners--not even a light in a tree.  It was very sad.  We did get a sticker in the the mail in the fall--that said "We stick together--ABC Episcopal Church"  

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Yes, we’re Episcopal, and they’ve taken it very seriously.

My sister, SBC, just lost her pastor to Covid and he was preaching just a few days before he died. Then, they had several days of visitation and a big funeral. I don’t understand at all. 

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Yes.  Bible church.  We were online only from March 15th through the end of August.  Then we began meeting outdoors. (We've had a Youtube option for years, though it's much fancier now. 😁)

We've been masked and outdoors all winter apart from two rainy Sundays and Valentine's Day, which was the first day of the crazy freeze in TX.  The elders serve drive-by communion for those who want it.

 

 

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It's encouraging to see how many have taken it seriously!

Ours has too.  Still 100% online.  It has more small groups than ever, all-online, and because people can now "attend" it from all over the world, participation has grown substantially.  It has really put its energy into growing its on-line community, and outwardly too:  helping the city's homeless and low income families struggling, helping single parents who are trying to educate their kids who are schooling at home, etc.  It has also become quite involved in helping with the aftermath of the George Floyd killing (nearby), and has spent a lot of time (months of sermons and discussion groups) learning about racial injustice.  It has sent clean-up crews to the neighborhoods that were destroyed, served at outdoor food donation sites in those neighborhoods whose grocery stores were burned down, etc.

I've been so grateful for how our church has handled the major events of this past year.  I should add that it's an inner-city church so it does have to deal with higher Covid numbers, a denser population, and a number of other issues that probably play a part in more careful regulations.

It's a non-denominational church, but considers itself an Anabaptist spinoff.

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Yes, nondenominational evangelical. We've been doing virtual and outdoor services with social distancing. We are in CA so in our area, churches have only been allowed to return to in-person in February after the Supreme Court ruling to allow 25% capacity masked (the state is working under a tier system). They have only decided to return to in-person at that capacity with masking after Easter.

We have really expanded our online offerings beyond worship services. We've had the highest weekly participation this last year and the highest participation in our small groups which are online. We are doing a lot to engage in increasing our work and presence in underserved communities working with different community services, school districts, and local government. We've been able to put about 100k volunteer hours as church serving the community and put $650K towards Covid relief, community needs (like food pantry, housing, clothing, etc.), human trafficking, and global relief efforts.

Edited by calbear
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Episcopal, in person and online options as well as online Sunday School for children. We are distanced, masked, no singing, leave after communion, bread only. We have more people still choosing to worship online. Our in person service still has only about 20 people attending. Mostly a cautious group but folks are getting antsy as they vaccinated. 

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yes - locally   . . . . 

meetings have been reduced. 

meetings are available on zoom for those who don't want to attend in person.

Sacrament meeting has been an average of 40 minutes (via zoom) with another 10 minutes for the sacrament (with zoom turned of, and only since we started back in person in September), vs the previous 60 minutes (and before that, it was 70 minutes)

masks are required.  There are people at the door, and tables with boxes of disposable masks (for those who don't have their own), and hand sanitizer.  Only one set of doors is unlocked for people to enter.  (normally, there are at least four sets of doors unlocked.)

every other bench is "closed" for spacing.

hymn books have been put away, so hymns are only instrumental.  (I have them on my phone, and will read along.)

I'm in a very tiny spanish speaking branch - so this doesn't apply to me, (but has to at least one son, and one daughter), but larger congregations are divided by up last name for who can attend what week.  (to allow or spacing of the in person congregation)    

there have been changes made to how the sacrament is passed - since every other bench is "closed" - the person passing it can walk along the empty row to give it to the people in the next row.  one tray has a piece of bread (or water) in individual sacrament cups (staggered placement), and another tray/basket to collect used cups (previously garbage bag prior to easing restrictions)  Those preparing/passing the sacrament wear gloves as well as masks.

 

I'm LDS - there is/has been a variation of this everywhere there are LDS units, according to local circumstances.

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1 hour ago, J-rap said:

It's encouraging to see how many have taken it seriously!

Ours has too.  Still 100% online.  It has more small groups than ever, all-online, and because people can now "attend" it from all over the world, participation has grown substantially.  It has really put its energy into growing its on-line community, and outwardly too:  helping the city's homeless and low income families struggling, helping single parents who are trying to educate their kids who are schooling at home, etc.  It has also become quite involved in helping with the aftermath of the George Floyd killing (nearby), and has spent a lot of time (months of sermons and discussion groups) learning about racial injustice.  It has sent clean-up crews to the neighborhoods that were destroyed, served at outdoor food donation sites in those neighborhoods whose grocery stores were burned down, etc.

 

35 minutes ago, calbear said:

We have really expanded our online offerings beyond worship services. We've had the highest weekly participation this last year and the highest participation in our small groups which are online. We are doing a lot to engage in increasing our work and presenvce in underserved communities working with different community services, school districts, and local government. We've been able to put about 100k volunteer hours as church serving the community and put $650K towards Covid relief, community needs (like food pantry, clothing, etc.), human trafficking, and global relief efforts.

What a wonderful vision for both churches! I am so glad they've embraced the possibilities.

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My Catholic church takes it very seriously. Everyone must wear a face covering. Every other pew is taped off. The pews where seating is allowed are divided into three large sections; people skip sections, so they're only sitting close to their own family members. Only the main entrance is used for people to enter (it's a large building, with lots of doors); people are seated by ushers, beginning at the very front. After Mass, ushers dismiss one row at a time, and people leave by a side door. Those serving Communion go to the people in the pews instead of people going to the front; only the Precious Body is served. Lots of hand sanitizing. Staff members spray some sort of disinfectant on all the pews after every Mass.

We are now singing, which we're glad for, but we have to use our phones or other devices to see the worship aids. Most of us just don't.

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Charis Fellowship, the elders have tried to follow all the Emergency Orders and wear masks. During the one and only real wave of Covid we had more people masked etc but it continues to be shrinking. We Zoomed entirely for awhile,  split the AWANA program into sections so kids would attend once a month rather than every week to keep the number of people in the church small, spaced rows out a lot, continued Zoom, and have had church in the parking lot, many of us chose to do outdoor walks distanced and masked with those who isolated. The young adults group and teen groups though didn't want to really police so kids did whatever so my kids had to quit most all activities. It was awkward for them to be acting so different and it has made my kids less comfortable at church.

That being said, many within the body disregarded the rules. They were not about to kick people out of the church because that isn't what they do. 

 

I understand not wanting to boot people out but I also see many many verses on loving others and in humility considering others better than yourselves which say to me keep my germs in my mask as much as possible. Be mindful of overworked nurses, etc.

Also, the new testament church was very explicitly and obviously commanded to submit to governing authorities in many places (for example Romans 13, 2 Peter 2:9-16). There really isn't any ambiguity in these verses. It's not like some strange vision Ezekiel had. Therefore, I can't help but think that those disobeying are in direct rebellion and disobedience to the command of God. Period.

Edited by frogger
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