Portland area churches are responding in different ways to the rise in the number of active COVID-19 cases in Sumner County.
On Dec. 23, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt extended the mask mandate until Feb. 27, because of this increase in numbers. In addition, Holt has asked for people to continue to practice social distancing, to wash hands frequently, and to stay home when sick.
First Baptist Church of Portland has been meeting on-line only for the past few weeks. The decision to meet in person on Sunday, Jan. 17 will be made by Wednesday, Jan. 13. The church has a regular broadcast on WQKR at 11 a.m. each Sunday.
Pastor Tim Colovos said, “The virus has reminded me that the church has never quit gathering. We call it “gathered while we’re scattered.” The only thing we’ve really done has been we’ve given our church building a break. The church family has met every Sunday and every Wednesday since last March, whether online or in person. I’m very grateful for that.”
According to Colovos, he has received many phone calls from active church members that have tested positive, and were probably already positive without knowing it and were at church. Colovos added that you simply want to err on the side of caution.
Portland Church of Christ’s elders have no plans to change at this time. The church will continue to meet on Sundays and Wednesday nights while streaming on Facebook and being broadcast on WQKR at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
The congregation is asked to read designated chapters from the Bible each day and to read a daily devotion from My Life in Him, a collection of devotions by different authors assigned weekly and published by The Jenkins Institute.
Highland Seventh-Day Adventist Church has posted on its web page that they will continue to remain open with modifications, such as discontinuing fellowship meals and other non-essential programs. Church leaders consulted with the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference to help with this decision. The services are live-streamed and on Youtube.
McKendree Memorial United Methodist Church has suspended all activities including in-person worship until Jan. 17. They continue to offer worship on Sunday at 10 a.m. on Facebook.
Pastor Steven Vanhooser said, “The two metrics that we use to suspend in-person worship is a community spread greater than 20 percent and a Sumner County positivity rate greater than 1.0 which is around 1,920 active cases. We continue to make a decision every two weeks and notify our congregation and community through our website, Facebook, newsletter, outdoor sign, and telephone information line.”
Portland Church of the Nazarene will have an online format at 11 a.m. Sundays through Jan. 10, according to its website. The Sunday service is available at 11 a.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Members who do not have the ability to watch are invited to call the church office and make arrangements to come to the church parking lot on Sundays and a computer will be brought to them to watch while sitting in their cars.
Pastor Matt Taylor reminded the members in a letter to the congregation not to forget just because in person church is suspended, doesn’t mean your faith or the work of the church is suspended! Just because we will not be gathering for several hours on Sunday in person doesn’t mean that you can’t still love God, love others and serve both! Keep being the church wherever you find yourself over the next couple weeks.”