For some churches in Berea, congregations worshipped as usual. Others canceled and opted for an online service instead over concerns of COVID-19.
At Berea Baptist Church, pastor Kevin Slemp did his usual double duty with two services last Sunday, but said attendance was less than usual. But Slemp said by the “end of the day, over 1,700 people had viewed the service online.”
Allen Livingood, pastor at Westside Baptist, also noticed an increase in online viewership.
“More people watched online and shared it more than normally,” he said.
“Our crowd was around half the size as usual, but that was okay because we had encouraged older people to stay home, those already sick or if they or someone
they lived with has a compromised immune system.”
Slemp spoke on “Power, Love and a Sound Mind” and emphasized 2 Timothy 1:7. Prior to Sunday’s services, Slemp said the church took precautions and advised seniors who had a compromised immune system to stay home and those with respiratory issues.
“The night before the service, we had someone wipe down surfaces such as door handles with disinfectant,” he said. “We asked those who did attend to not shake hands or give hugs, and to try to keep a bit of distance from others.
“With our low attendance, it wasn’t difficult for people to sit at a distance from each other if they chose. We also did not pass offering plates to receive the offering. We had people stand at the doors with the plates as people walked out so any who chose to give could just drop their gifts in the plates. We also had hand sanitizer placed throughout the facility.”
Berea Christian Church canceled its usual Sunday services but offered an online version to its congregation and Berea United Methodist Church followed suit.
Berea Church of God pastor Steve Hobbs said churches are taking the virus “very seriously” and are working hard to “balance safety and ministry.”
Pastors praised the ability to use technology and encouraged online giving.
“Over the past few years, quite a few of our attenders have already begun giving online,” Slemp said.
“However, given the current crisis, online giving will become much more important. It is a great blessing that we have that capability.”
Moving forward, all pastors are praying normalcy resumes soon.
“We are hereby joining with the world wide and nationwide and our local community wide effort to curtail the spread of this virus,” Berea Methodist pastor Dr. Timo Karvonen said in a Facebook post to his congregation. “We pray and hope our local Berea United Methodist Church can play a small but important part in working towards the common good of all our people in our community and in the whole state of Kentucky.”