With some churches opening their doors in Houston and Burns Lake area, the services are set to look different than usual with hand sanitizers and social distancing in place.
“The way people do churches has always throughout history has changed due to many reasons and the churches have always adapted and evolved,” said Pastor Mike McIntyre of the the Houston Pentecostal Church. The church has been open for around a month already but it definitely is an unusual time. The church has taken Covid-related measures like spaced-out seating arrangement, shorter services, hand sanitizers everywhere, and there is much less physical contact.
“In our Church we have what we call as Alter Calls where people who want to pray with the pastor, come up to the front after the service, so we have stopped doing that. It is a small church and everyone knows each other so there used to be a lot of hugging and hand-shaking but none of that is happening anymore,” said Pastor McIntyre.
Houston United Church however remains closed and won’t open until September.
“We are very well aware of how much people need a place of worship in these trying times but we just want to keep everyone safe. We look forward to welcoming everyone in Fall to worship in a safe way,” said Student Minister Morgan Ryder.
While Houston has a mix of churches that have opened their doors while those that continue to remain closed due to the pandemic, a lot of Burns Lake churches are open and even have divided the services so as to keep the numbers under 50.
Pastor Ed Peters of the Island Gospel Fellowship said that the church has been open since the second Sunday of June with two Sunday services, one at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 11 a.m.
“Every other pew is blocked off but we can do it because the sanctuary is fairly large,” said Pastor Peters, adding that the church has seen 70 people coming for the services between the two services. That is lower than the usual number of people attending the fellowship but is still fairly a large number considering the pandemic.
Old Landmarks Christian Fellowship had stopped service for around six weeks in the early days of the pandemic however they resumed their service as they have a small group. Pastor Lisa Roland said that they were still following the social distancing protocols with spaces between each family, asking the group to bring their own beverages, take turns at the snack table, etc.
“I can see how difficult it is for older people. For them the church service is a time for togetherness and while a lot of them have families here, many also don’t have their families with them. So this becomes such an important time for them to have this. We try and do the best we can,” said Pastor Roland.
Living Waters Church has been open from June and has seen around 30 people coming in. They have sanitizers, they clean all surfaces, wipe down all tables, mics, benches. They also have families sitting together but are ensuring distancing is maintained between non-family members.
Grassy Plains Gospel Church however had been closed and had their first service this past Sunday since the closure. The church is offering hand sanitizer stations, masks, gloves and has blocked off every other pew.
“We won’t be doing the fellowship part of it where we go downstairs after the service, have coffee and just hang out and get together for a while,” said Pastor Alain Vitela-Campos.
With so much variety in how services are being done, it would be definitely interesting to see how the rest of the churches in the area are doing. Write to us and tell us what your church is doing in these testing times.