Local pastor shares how churches can be safe spaces during a pandemic
Pastor Jerry House says he wants Christ UMC to be a place where everyone can feel welcome and not have to worry.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - As Texas continues to see record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases, one College Station pastor wants to let people know that church can still be a safe place to worship.
Rev. Jerry House, the lead pastor at Christ United Methodist Church worries that people don’t find it safe to go to church during the pandemic.
“I saw a report last week that said religious worship attendance is the worst thing a person can do, alongside going to a bar and that really bothered me,” said House.
House said it bothers him because he says he’s done so much to make his church as safe as possible, by partnering with local health officials to put a number of protocols in place.
“We made a decision to socially distance in the sanctuary, so people sit in every other pew,” said House.”We have people after each worship service spraying down the pews so that those surfaces that they’re going to sit in will be sanitized.”
House says he wants Christ UMC to be a place where everyone can feel welcome and not have to worry.
“Even from people standing and greeting, they hold signs that as ‘I’m smiling.’ You know, we wanted people to come in and feel not just safe, but feel welcome,” said House.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said people are exempt from wearing masks at church. However, Christ UMC strongly recommends their attendees wear a mask during in-person services.
Church members say they're happily adapting to the changes.
“Some things are weird. We don’t hug. We don’t shake hands, stuff like that. But to know that you’re able to come and be with your church family again and be socially distanced and be safe, and still be able to worship, there’s nothing like that,” said Farrah Spears, a longtime church member at Christ UMC.
House says Christ UMC isn’t the only church working hard to provide the community a place to worship, whether that be at home or at church.
"We're not unique. I've been in conversation with many other pastors in this community who are doing the very same kinds of things because they have the same kind of passion for their people to be able to worship, whether they want to worship in the sanctuary or at home," said House.
House says he has weekly discussions with his worship team on whether they should move all worship services online. House believes services in-person are vital and says he will do what he can to keep them going.
“People need people and if we can provide a safe space where they can come and be around people and hear a message about the love of the Lord for their lives, then my goodness, I will do everything I can to help make that happen,” said House.
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