LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Like many other Kentucky Baptist churches, Kevin Slemp and the congregation of Berea Baptist Church will resume services Sunday and is taking precautions ahead of the reopening.
Slemp said they will have two worship services and limit the crowd size to 125 attendees per service. The size limit falls in line with Gov. Andy Beshear’s requirement that church’s limit their crowd to 33 percent of capacity. The pastor also plans to keep his services on Facebook Live “so those who can’t attend in person will be able to watch from home if they have internet access.”
Many churches have chosen Sunday as the day to reopen to in-person services while some will start in June or even July. A few others even began last Sunday. But every church is excited about the prospect of gathering again, and doing it safely, in the coming weeks.
Most have not been meeting since the first or second Sunday of March. However, taking safety precautions is critical.
Slemp is urging church attendees who are 65 and over to stay home and others to make the proper decision on their own well-being. He also is urging those who have a fever, respiratory symptoms or those associated with COVID-19 to stay home.
“I’m sure some who are not considered to be high risk may still choose to stay home rather than attend,” he said. “That is perfectly fine. I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to attend if they don’t yet feel it’s wise or practical for them to do so.”
Slemp said his greeters will be wearing masks and gloves at each entrance to open doors so “our attendees won’t have to touch door handles.”
“We have ordered non-contact infrared thermometers, and, if the thermometers arrive in time, each person’s temperature will be scanned as they enter,” he said. “Anyone who has a fever will be politely asked to go home.”
The church will mark off six-foot sections on the top of the pews “to provide a convenient visual reference for how far six feet actually is.” There will be no Sunday school classes and child care won’t be offered for the time being.
“For now, we simply can’t have groups meeting together in small rooms,” he said.
Slemp is advising against shaking hands and hugging and added that congregational singing will be “minimal” and “those in the pews who choose to participate will have to do so while wearing their masks.”
Members of the congregation won’t be receiving church bulletins and sermon note sheets and offering plates won’t be passed by an usher. Tithe and offerings will be electronically received or they can be dropped in a “designated receptacle in the facility.”
After each service, Slemp plans to have a “team of people wipe down door handles and the tops and arms of each pew with disinfectant.”
Slemp wants his attendees to “be understanding toward each other and patient in this unprecedented situation.”
“God will see us through it,” he said.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.