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How some services are keeping congregations safe in a COVID-19 world

This month has marked the first time that Mid-South churches have opened their doors back up to members and guests since the pandemic hit in March.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Church members have seen their pastors preach online for the last several months. 

However that’s been slowly changing as Mid-South churches open live services to a smaller number of people. 

Health is number one here at Brown Missionary Baptist Church in in Southaven, Mississippi. 

You can see these signs outside the doors to always mask up but what happens if a second wave hits this winter? The pastor said it’s a situation they're closely monitoring. 

From thermometer checks to sanitizing stations Brown Missionary is taking every precaution to keep parishioners COVID-free on Sundays.  

“They’re registering online answering the health screening questions," said senior pastor Bartholomew Orr. "We’re social distancing and then we’re wearing our masks.” 

Orr said this is only the second weekend of live in-person services since march when the pandemic hit.  

“The people they’re slowly coming on back in," he said. "We’re grateful. There’s no rush because they’re not missing anything. Online we still have everything to offer.” 

Brown Missionary usually sees about 4,000 to 5,000 churchgoers in all three services but with COVID-19 as a factor they are only seeing a couple of hundred.

Earlier this year the Shelby County Health Department advised churches to use virtual services. 

With a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases, Orr said that going exclusively virtual again is a possibility.   

Senior Pastor Donald L Johnson at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church said he’s prepared to do the same. 

“Our board of directors and our leadership team we made it very clear that if it got to the place where it was not safe to do it we have absolutely, and I mean absolutely no problem with shutting down,” said Johnson. 

For church member Denise Greene worshiping in person is significant.  

“When you worship with one another you get a feel for what other people might be going through," said Greene. "It seems as if you’re not alone in your serving of god. You just seem to be all as one unit.”

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