Many churches are turning to live streams and outdoor meetings to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that have been preventing congregants from gathering in churches.
St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Provo has transitioned from virtual services to in-person services earlier than any other church. Rev. Susan Toone of St. Mary's Episcopal Church confessed that their virtual services were only initiated only during the start of COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since they noticed other businesses opening up, the church has been holding outdoor services every other week as the weather permits. New Community Church has also been holding outdoor services at a local city park.
"We make it a very informal gathering," Pastor David Nicholson shared. "We always do our services with food in our hands."
Nicholson said the most difficult thing about holding services during the pandemic is the decrease in attendance in which there used to be an average of 70 people pre-COVID but ever since the pandemic, only an average of 25 people attend service.
Nicholson is considering implementing colored wristbands for congregants to non-verbally express their comfort level of social distancing with a red band being strict on social distancing, yellow being cautious, and green being fine with physical contact.
Meanwhile, the Way Church in Provo are holding their services via live streaming on Facebook Live. "We also hold nightly prayer meetings online," Mario Garcia, secretary of The Way Church said. "As a functional body of Christ, we encourage one another via online meetings and phone calls. Some members have started hosting their own devotionals online."