Many churches gathering again
By LORI HEROLD
For The Weekly Post While the majority of local churches have resumed worship services, it may be a while before sanctuaries are filled with bare-faced parishioners shaking hands and sharing hugs. The return to services in sanctuaries – that began last weekend and continues this weekend – has been well-received, according to local ministers.
“Older people say how wonderful it is to be in front of the altar again,” said Pastor Michael Liese, of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Brimfield.
That being said, area churches emphasize that people should stay home if they have a fever, have health conditions that make them vulnerable, have been exposed to the virus, or if they simply feel uncomfortable being part of a gathering just yet.
As the website of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Brimfield states, “The bishops have completely dispensed (excused us) from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the foreseeable future. This means that no one should feel guilty about staying home or missing Mass on the weekend.
“… It is not a sin if you decide to stay home.”
Here is information on which churches are open and special requirements.
• Baptist Church of Brimfield: Services resume in the building June 14. Through the month of June, masks are required except when properly distanced in the pews, then wearing them is optional. Families may sit together. “We don’t want people to feel like they’re in jail, we want to be inviting, to feel like church,” said Doug Seeley.
• St. Joseph Catholic Church: Services have resumed in the building on an RSVP basis by going to parish website and choosing desired Mass. Holy Communion will be distributed to those in cars in the parking lot. Confession will be heard in the parking lot.
• St. Paul’s Lutheran Church: Services have resumed in the building though they are shorter, “more like devotions than sermons,” according to Liese. Masks can be worn but are not required. Parishioners should properly distance and families can sit together. For those not ready to return to a gathering, Holy Communion can be administered privately at church or home.
• Brimfield E-free Church: Services have resumed in the building following CDC guidelines. Pastor Donald Blasing said, “We have marked off 6-foot sections in our fellowship hall for social distancing and taped lanes for traffic in and out of the church. We do plan to have coffee available soon, but it will be in cups with lids already on them so our people can pick them up before the service.” Front doors will be open to avoid touching them, hand sanitizer will be available, masks will be required and available for those who don’t have them.
• Brimfield United Methodist Church: For now, worship is available via Facebook only.
• Union Church at Brimfield United Church of Christ: There will be no services at the building through June. Physical attendance will be revisited once the area enters Phase 4.
• Bethany Baptist Churches: No services in the building yet. Pastor Bob Castle said, “Our plan is a working draft at this time and we continue to discuss as a church family.”
• Christ Alive! Church: According to information on Facebook, Christ Alive has resumed services at the building.
• St. Mary’s Catholic Church: Services have resumed on an RSVP basis for two weeks at a time. Collection baskets will not be passed, but be in the spaces indicated. There will be no sign of peace. According to a letter sent to parishioners, “The faithful are strongly encouraged to receive Communion in the hand and to carefully avoid any physical contact with the minister’s hand when receiving. Those who do not wish to come forward at Communion are encouraged to remain in place to make an Act of Spiritual Communion.”
• St. Patrick’s Catholic Church: Refer to St. Mary’s in Kickapoo-Edwards.
• Crossroads Assembly of God: Services in the building will resume on June 28. Masks will be required, as is properly distancing. Every other row will be required to stay empty. Hand sanitizer will be available.
• First United Presbyterian Church of Elmwood: Services have resumed in the building. The website states, “Our main guidance came from Governor Pritzker’s ‘Guidance for Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services’ on the Illinois Dept. of Public Health webpage.’”
Parishioners are asked to use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting and avoid touching doors, light switches, pews, pew Bibles and hymnals.
Masks are recommended but not required. Distancing will be at 10-feet apart “because we will be singing and joining in responsive reading,” though family groups may sit together.
Greeters, ushers, liturgists and musicians will not be used until further notice. Holy Communion may be picked up on the way out of the sanctuary.
• New Hope Fellowship Assembly of God: Services have resumed in the building though services will continue to be available on Facebook as well. Attendees who wear masks will be separate from those who don’t. Parishioners will be required to use hand-sanitizing stations upon entering and exiting. Temperatures will be checked beginning June 14 and parishioners asked how they are feeling.
• Farmington Bible Church: Services have resumed in the building. Proper distancing is required. Masks are voluntary.
• First Presbyterian Church of Farmington: No services in building yet, though they will continue online. According to Pastor Andy Sonneborn in the church newsletter, “We need to take things slowly and not rush to reopen everything immediately. When we do worship together again, worship is going to look different than what we are used to, and it will be like that for some time. … As one of your spiritual leaders, I worry about reopening too soon. … The last thing I want is to know that people got sick and/or died under my watch. So we will be cautious.” Of the ideas stated in the newsletter, the earliest reopen will be once state has entered Phase 4, and then there may be two worship services to accommodate 50 people or less.
• Princeville United Methodist Church: Services have resumed outside the building on the lawn during the month of June. Masks will be required though attendees may stay in their cars without a mask. Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs. After June, location of services will be determined on a month-by-month basis.
• St Mary of the Woods Catholic Church: Services have resumed in the building on an RSVP basis. TRIVOLI
• Trivoli United Methodist Church: Services have resumed outside the building as weather permits. Parishioners are welcome to bring lawn chairs. In the case of inclement weather, Sunday programming will be on Facebook and Zoom.
• St. James Catholic Church: Refer to St. Joseph’s in Brimfield. Confession will be made in the “machine shed.”