Churches continue with online services
Some churches begin to return to in-person services
Several local churches will be reopening their doors Sunday for parishioners to attend indoor worship services.
Places of worship — closed down in March amid the coronavirus pandemic — were given the OK last week to reopen with safety modifications in place. According to state guidelines, attendance must be limited to 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.
Last week, Faith Center in Eureka — which last held in-house services March 22 — led the way as one of the first area churches to resume services in the sanctuary.
“Although the church never closed, the building did,” said Matt Messner who, along with wife Heidi, serves as lead pastor of Faith Center.
“Being together again, even with all the limitations and safety measures, felt really good,” he said. “Many people are starving for connection right now, and many Christians are longing for a worship experience that goes beyond the isolation of worshipping through Zoom, livestream or television.”
Messner said the church consulted with the county regarding the safety measures that had to be in place to assemble. “They are holding to the California state guidelines for the assembly of churches, which we followed,” he said in an email interview with the Times-Standard.
Faith Center has been ministering exclusively online for the past 10 weeks. Services are also shown Sundays on KBVU (28) at 8:30 a.m.
“The challenge (of this) is missing out on the interpersonal connection of being together,” Messner said. “Also, there are some people who lack internet technology, making it challenging for them to stay connected.”
He added: “Going fully online has been a lot of work and a great challenge, but our staff has responded with adaptability, creativity and flexibility. Our reach as a church has actually increased during this time.”
Faith Center has other ministries such as its children’s ministry and Celebrate Recovery program that have been using Zoom and social media for their connections. The church has been posting daily videos on its website and started a weekly email for church members.
Messner says there were a few challenges with last weekend’s first indoor service at Faith Center, but mostly people were happy with the experience.
“There were challenges like wearing masks and limiting attendance, but there was a sense of joy gratitude and relief that came from being back together,” he said.
Currently, social distancing is in place at the church and children must sit with their parents at the service. People who have health risks or are symptomatic in any way are encouraged to watch services live at home. Services are live-streamed Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 and 11 a.m. at www.eurekafaithcenter.org, on Facebook Live and through the church app.
Heidi and Matt Messner are the lead pastors at Faith Center in Eureka.