LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Leaders from across Kentucky Baptist churches are working on a plan to submit to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office for churches to resume in-person meetings as coronavirus-based restrictions begin to ease. They say their goal is not only to help churches resume gathering but to do it in the safest way possible.
The Kentucky Baptist Convention is comprised of 2,360 churches with a membership of around 700,000 people.
The group, called the Church Gathering Advisory Team, is being led by Todd Gray, KBC executive director-treasurer. Gray says the group has a wide collection of Kentucky Baptist voices as they advocate for churches to government and medical officials.
“This group represents large as well as normative size churches. It represents ethnic, racial, and gender diversity," Gray said. "It also includes two of our Kentucky Baptist associational leaders. Our hope is to hear from a variety of Kentucky Baptists.”
David Stokes, associational mission strategist for the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists, believes the group will serve a broad purpose, “We are advocates for the local church, which is an essential and integral part of the well-being spiritually, emotionally, and relationally in all our cities, towns, and counties,” he said.
“Churches have unique challenges and questions to answer as we think about joining back together in corporate worship in the weeks ahead,” said Brad Walker, pastor of Briensburg Baptist in Benton.
As churches prepare to begin meeting in-person, they are trying to understand how the number of people allowed in a gathering will affect them. Under CDC guidelines, a church of 75 members will face very different challenges than the church of 750 members.
Gray said the group wants to hear from Beshear and his administration, but would also like to help them think through the plan.
“We will always be respectful of our elected officials, but we also want to help them understand the needs of Kentucky Baptist churches," Gray said. "We would like to hear what the Governor is thinking about the reinstatement of in-person services and how we can help him make good decisions that will honor the overwhelming number of Kentuckians who would like to begin worshipping in-person.”
Nick Sandefur, senior pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist in Lexington, believes the group can be a help to the governor. “We believe earlier communication will create greater compliance among churches,” he said.
One of the team members, Benita Decker, works in the Kentucky Department of Public Health. She is a member of Farmdale Baptist in Frankfort and is serving as an unofficial liaison between the team and the department.
The group plans to submit proposed guidelines to the Beshear administration by Thursday.