Bible Way Church of Atlas Rd partnered with DHEC to discuss ways that churches around the Midlands could reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — There are still many unknowns when it comes to COVID-19 and the impact it will have on people who may be returning to a sense of normalcy.
When it comes to churches and houses of worship, there are still questions about large gatherings how comfortable people will feel in their congregations.
Bible Way Church of Atlas Road held a virtual town hall on their Facebook page, answering questions about holding services in buildings.
Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist and Dr. Cedrek McFadden, board certified surgeon, participated in the discussion.
Dr. Bell explained that when churches do reopen, they should operate at 25 percent capacity.
“The decisions about returning to services safely, to reduce harm, to reduce the potential for exposure, has to do with those factors, to maintain the social distancing,” says Dr. Bell. “That could mean side to side in a pew, but also paying attention to people who are in front or behind you.”
Pastor Jackson says Bible Way Church seats 2,500, but with limited capacity, they might only be able to serve 300 per service.
Churches were hopeful that the virus would die down in the summer months, due to the hotter climates. However, Dr. McFadden says there’s no clear answer on what the virus will do.
“We are hopeful that that is pattern that we will see,” says Dr. McFadden. “However, we cannot rely on that as being our sole solution for this virus.”
People are encouraged to continue practicing good hygiene, cover their coughs, social distance and wear masks.
“It is not going to be the same and I don’t know if church services will ever be the same,” says Sen. Jackson. “This may be to churches, what 911 was to airports. Changes will have to be made. People will have to have separation.”
Pastor Jackson says that he is thankful that they are able to reach a larger audience with the virtual services, but there are still many unknowns to how the church will operate going forward. He says those details are still being worked out, but people will have to wear masks the services.