COVID-19 spike leads churches to make difficult decisions again

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INDIANAPOLIS — Churches across central Indiana are faced with making the choice to continue offering in-person services or moving to 100% online worship.

The decisions come as state health officials reported that contact tracing indicates a spike each Sunday related to church events.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church leadership has decided to move all services online after volunteer worship members expressed concerns about in-person worship, and a growing number of staff members with family who had been exposed and therefore requiring them to quarantine.

“We know there are other churches, maybe in the Methodist world, who kind of watch what we do, and we have been very safe and practiced a lot of precautions,” Pastor Rob Fuquay said. “We thought, we need to be a good example in this so all that together has led us to make the decision that we did.”

St. Luke’s will continue all online worship through at least the end of the year, including Christmas Eve. Pastor TC Taylor of One Fellowship Church said he and his team are meeting early next week to decide on their plan for the rest of the year.

“This is a serious situation that we’re dealing with the Coronavirus,” Taylor said. “It’s something that you should take very seriously now. We need to follow the health experts. We need to wear masks. We need to use hand sanitizer but ultimately, we need to trust God and trust that the Lord is with us and he will sustain us. Trusting God doesn’t mean disobeying advice that the health professionals give us. We can trust God and listen to that advice at the same time.”

 Health experts say virtual services are a great option right now as the state fights to control the spread. But, if someone decides they do want to attend in-person services, make sure you’re protecting yourself.

“If you do go make sure you wear your mask, make sure you’re sitting six feet away from other families, and make sure you’re seeing that other people are wearing their masks as well,” Shandy Dearth, Director of the Undergraduate Epidemiology Program at IUPUI’s Fairbanks School of Public Health, said. “If they aren’t wearing their masks, I would say something to one of the leaders of the worship center.”

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