LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) – As coronavirus cases continue to rise in communities across the country, the role of churches is unique. For many, Sunday services are essential, even with the risk of spreading through mass gatherings.
Senior Pastor Jerome Brimmage said the church will never turn down a soul, even during a pandemic.
“We made the intentional decision to worship and offer both online and in-person worship. And encourage people to get vaccinated, encourage people to distance themselves socially and encourage people to wear a mask, ”Brimmage said.
Brimmage said he recognizes that every church operates differently. He says many small churches in the area have stopped hosting funeral services or larger gatherings, and the First United Methodist Church remains a place they can turn to.
“Probably over 85% of our congregation believe in the vaccination and received the vaccination as soon as it was available, and many of them are also starting to receive their boosters,” Brimmage said.
The First Christian Church shut down services in March 2020 and went online until mid-June of the same year. Masks were once mandatory in the church, but now with the vaccines available, the church is encouraging masks. Jack Knox, a senior minister at First Christian Church, said he had noticed a drop in the number of participants as cases in the region increased.
“I think we’ve seen a slight decrease in the number of people who come to church on Sunday for in-person service. We offer an online worship, a streaming service. So I know people always participate that way, ”Knox said.
Knox recognizes that the church brings together people of all ages, young children not eligible for the vaccine and the elderly.
“If they have a weakened immune system or are in one of the most vulnerable populations, we encourage them to stay home,” Knox said.
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