BEREA, Ky. (KT) — Greg Lakes isn’t wasting any time reopening the doors of his church to his congregation.
Lakes, pastor of Pilot Knob Baptist Church in Berea, will have two normal services on Sunday morning and estimates the crowd will be smaller since the threat of COVID-19 still lingers.
“I think we will have roughly 50 percent who will not attend in person,” Lakes said. “We have three options to choose from for others who wish to worship in an alternative way.”
Those alternatives include Facebook Live and an FM transmitter feed for those who wish to remain in their vehicles during worship services. Lakes added things will be much different when the congregation returns this weekend.
Lakes won’t have Sunday school or children’s ministry programs and added that the focus will be on cleanliness within the sanctuary and no passing of the offering plates by designated ushers in either service.
While Lakes is preparing for his first service since the pandemic slammed the door on church congregations across the state nearly three months ago, other pastors are taking a wait and see approach.
“We have not made concrete plans yet, but I feel like it will be at least June before we resume anything other than Facebook Live (services),” Brodhead Baptist Church pastor Ralph Baker said. “I am in the process of calling members from all age groups so I can get an idea of who will come in person. For the most part, none I have talked to are in no hurry to rush in. They want to watch the health department numbers on cases when things re-open. We want to make sure there is no surge.”
Baker said his congregation will follow CDC and state guidelines and is considering many options, including a "first service for people in any at-risk category.”
“(We are looking at) possibly taking temperature checks as people enter (the church),” Baker said. “We are forming teams now of seaters and greeters and multiple cleaning crews. We will absolutely be as safe as possible upon return to protect our people.”
Dennis Wilder, pastor at First Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, plans on having precautions in place upon the reopening of his church on June 7.
“All staff and volunteers will sign waivers and have their temperature taken,” he said. “Masks will be suggested and worn by staff and volunteers unless they are on stage.”
The congregation at Pilot Knob is wide-ranging and Lakes said he has a “wide demographic” of attendees in both of his Sunday services.
“The majority of our congregation is aged 35-50,” he said.
Baker added his congregation is “pretty equally distributed between college age and down, middle of the scale and seniors.
“I am trying to get an idea how many from each (age) group will want to return so we can plan how to schedule services as we come back,” he said.
Lakes emphasized that he aims to “trust the Lord with his church.”
“We want to show grace to one another as each one chooses how they feel led to worship during this fluid time, remembering we are all in the same church,” he said.
Wilder agreed and stressed the need for patience as the church prepares to return to the sanctuary in the coming weeks.
“Pray for us for wisdom as we make decisions,” he said. “Pray that God will be glorified.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21