SABINE COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Houses of Worship continue to be impacted by COVID-19. Many churches are finding unique ways to continue their services and outreach.
Sunday morning church services look a lot more like what you see at New Hope Baptist Church in Sabine County with online services. The COVD-19 pandemic has caused numerous changes to how people worship.
“It’s still an adjustment,” New Hope Baptist Church Pastor George Ross said. “For me, and I am sure for other pastors and ministry workers, we’re still trying find that sweet spot of ministry. Like ‘how do you do this’ or ‘what’s the new normal like for us?‘”
Ross has been the pastor at New Hope for five years. Sunday services were held via Facebook Live once the pandemic started. Now, they are held outside the sanctuary, where members can listen in their cars on the radio, sit in lawn chairs while social distancing or continue to watch on Facebook.
“We’re still meeting outside because in our area, the number of cases are rising,” Ross said. “I feel as a pastor, it is our responsibility to protect our flock and anything to help stop spread of this virus.” (Ross)
“It’s just trying to find a good balance for what works the way we’re doing it,” New Hope Deacon Shane Allman said. “[We’re] trying to accommodate everybody and do what’s best for them and the safety of their families. It’s an adjustment, but I think people are glad just to be able to do it.”
In San Augustine County at Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, Pastor Bradley Hale streams his services online, and people can attend inside the sanctuary but must follow new rules.
“We had to cancel our in-person worship services for a while and then we came back to a semi-safe point to where we came in with compliance with CDC regulations and social distancing, even sanitation stations in our church to where to ensure the safety of everybody,” Hale said.
The Pastors say the ways churches outreach to communities have changed too.
“It’s been very difficult with outreach,” Hale said. “Almost to where it is a screeching halt, but there’s always ways to think outside the box. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook has been the base as far as outreach. For those members who aren’t yet ready to come out, it’s helped us stay connected with them.”
“We’re still looking at ways of how do we feed people,” Ross said. “How do we care for people? It’s difficult, but the beautiful thing about it is it hasn’t stopped the Gospel from being preached. We are still being sensitive to the Spirit, listening to Him and moving forward in the direction that He tells us to go.”
Another aspect the Pastors say has challenged them is how to find different ways to greet people besides hugs and handshakes.
They say members continue to contribute spiritually and financially by paying tithes with certain mobile apps.
The pastors both say in times like these, they are staying prayerful for everyone.