KEY POINTS

  • Ministers feel they are practicing safe distancing
  • Some churches live stream or organize drive-in services
  • Mainline denominations stay shut

A few churches in the Bible belt plan to provide live Easter services Sunday despite local coronavirus restrictions prohibiting such.

The Glorious Way Church in Houston, Ga. had more than 30 people inside a small building on Palm Sunday. That brought a visit from state troopers. Although the church live streams, it plans to move forward with "normal" Easter worship. The church issued a statement Monday including guidelines for the April 12 service.

These included but were not limited to:

  • Do not attend church if you feel ill or have a fever, cough or shortness of breath or if you are at high risk of exposure through your travel or job.
  • Respect social distancing and stay six-feet apart from other worshipers, even in the parking lot.
  • Utilize available hand sanitizer (provided) upon entry and exit.
  • Do not touch door handles or other public surfaces. (Doors will be propped open all the way in.)
  • Households will be seated by groups as you enter, and will exit in like manner. Please keep your children in your personal family space at all times.
  • Leave any offerings in one of the trays available at the back doors.

The church has installed hand-washing stations and rearranged the 1,000-person sanctuary to hold about 100 people with six or more feet between them, said Pastor John Greiner. It plans to hold two abbreviated Easter services to accommodate everyone who wants to attend.

The Center Arena in Orlando held in-person services on Palm Sunday and plan to do the same for Easter, according to its website. Evangelist Rick Vera also has a  "Prophetic Miracle Revival" scheduled that evening. The Florida governor lifted Coronavirus restrictions on churches.

Although Eli Porter, pastor of the Church of God the Bibleway in Statesboro, Ga., was cited by Georgia State Troopers for violation of social distancing guidelines, members were caught hugging and shaking hands with him on Palm Sunday. The church plans to hold an Easter service.

Troopers gave the pastor a warning and urged him to hold services in the parking lot.

“We’re going to do as much as we can to respect the law," Clayton Cowart, president of the Statesboro church’s parent corporation. "But when it comes down to telling us how our religious services should go, we’re not going to do that.”

Most denominations are following government COVID-19 guidelines. Many are using technology to streamline music and sermons. At least one church has found a less technical way to hold its Easter service.

RiverTown Church in Columbus, Ga., plans to hold drive-in services for the third straight weekend on Easter. The church marked off every other parking place and asked parishioners to stay in their cars. The motto on the church’s website reads: “Come as you are, worship in your car.”