Churches are beginning to meet together after using various electronic methods to stay in touch with their members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many safety precautions are being put in place with social distancing being adopted by many churches. In some congregations, every other pew is used and spaces are marked.
First Baptist Church of Portland began meeting back in their sanctuary on June 7. Members and guests have five options to participate. They can choose from the 8 a.m. sanctuary service (masks only), 10 a.m. sanctuary service (masks are optional), 10 a.m. on Facebook Live, 11 a.m. WQKR Radio broadcast on 101.7 FM, or the 12 p.m. sanctuary service (masks are optional).
The church will continue this plan through June and July. If the social distancing restrictions have been lifted, more things will be added to what First Baptist of Portland will be able to do.
Pastor Tim Colovos said, “Our ushers and our safety team put a fantastic plan together that insures social distancing. We enter and exit under their leadership. As I told the congregation this past Sunday, nobody likes to be told what to do, but everybody has been very understanding and people know we’re doing it to keep people as safe as we can.”
McKendree Memorial United Methodist Church will celebrate their re-opening with services at 8 and 10 a.m. in the sanctuary on June 21, with a limited 45 percent capacity in the sanctuary and overflow in the chapel.
The church will continue to offer an online service on Facebook for those that do not feel comfortable being in a large crowd or have health issues.
Pastor Steven VanHooser said, “As a pastor, I feel a lot like the Israelites, while I can see the promised land in the distance, I realize we are not out of the wilderness just yet. We have many challenges and obstacles to overcome, but God has not brought us this far to leave us here.”
Oasis Seventh Day Adventist Church began meeting in Meadowbrook Park on June 6. The congregation sits in lawn chairs facing the barn where the minister and musicians are set up. The regular minister is Pastor Mike McKenzie who alternates weekly between Oasis and another church.
The congregation is encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after the service. It has not been determined how long the congregation will meet in the park.
Portland Church of Christ began meeting on May 17 with two simultaneous groups meeting at 10 a.m. The congregation is divided into four geographic zones, alternating between services in the auditorium and the service in the fellowship hall. The auditorium service is live on Facebook and broadcasts on WQKR 101.7 FM at 10 a.m.
Pastor Shawn Montandon said, “It has been good, but just hasn’t felt the same yet. I don’t know when it will feel the same. Some people are still apprehensive about it. Some people are ready to jump right back in. In my opinion, it’s good, just not the same yet; but I’m looking for some sense of normalcy.”