Churches working to stop spread of COVID-19

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:53 PM EST
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Many churches in our area continue to offer virtual services as cases of COVID-19 continue to reach alarming levels in Michiana.

Catholic churches are still holding mass in person but with precautions in place. However, outside of Catholic churches most are choosing to keep the congregation at home.

“We’re waiting for Christ to come again, and so waiting is an integral part of what it is to be a Christian,” Kenneth Locke says. He’s the Interim Pastor at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church in South Bend.

They’re waiting to return to normal and with the rising cases in Michiana, many churches are staying virtual.

“This is the new reality. Nobody wants to get anybody sick. Nobody wants to be sick. We can worship God from a distance, that doesn’t make any difference,” Locke says.

Sunnyside Presbyterian has been doing remote services since the spring and doesn’t plan to change course for awhile. Now Granger community church is joining in on virtual services starting this weekend.

“The real thing that really led to this decision is the hospital situation.” Dr. Ted Bryant says. He’s the Lead Pastor at Granger Community Church

They’re wanting to keep the congregation safe and keep them out of an overwhelmed healthcare system.

“Hospitalizations have just reached a level in which I believe the fact is we are at a hospital crisis, catastrophe point,” Bryant says.

What about Catholic churches? I reached out to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to find out their directives. They’re still allowing in person services, but with precautions.

The congregation must be physically distanced, singing is suspended, communion is optional, giving a virtual option is encouraged, masked are required, and sanitation is key. The full list is on their website:

As for many other churches, they’ll be online, keeping that connection through their shared faith.

“At the heartbeat of this decision, really is the care and compassion we have for our community. Something that we talk about a lot at Granger Community Church is we want to be for Michiana,” Dr. Bryant says.

“I think speaking for all pastors if I may, we miss you too, we miss you very much it’s not the same, interacting with a bunch of empty pews, but we do this for the best of everybody. You know, our God is a God of life. Our God is a god who wants us to enjoy being alive and enjoy living, and so let’s not put that at risk,” Locke says.

The decision to go back to in-person services depends on those case numbers dropping, and the hospitals getting their census down. Catholic Churches in our area have no plans to go all virtual thus far.

Here is a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend:

“The diocese requires that all of our parishes follow the directives of state and local governments as well as the diocesan directives listed on our website. Since we are unaware of any outbreak coming from attendance at Catholic Mass, we are confident that the precautionary measures which we have put in place have been effective in preventing spread in our Catholic parishes. We are grateful to local health departments for their diligence and will keep their advisement in mind as we continue to monitor for signs of spread within our diocese.”

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