Large churches face challenges as they return to in-person worship

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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Churches around the state will have the option to open their doors to services for the first time in months on Sunday.

Pastors at two large churches in Bangor are preparing for their congregations to worship together, again, while meeting Governor Mills' order of no more than 50 people for religious gatherings.

"I want people to know if they don't come, if they're not ready to come that's absolutely fine - we support their decision."

Crosspoint Church of Bangor senior pastor Jerry Mick says his congregation is split on whether to return to worshiping in the same space.

"We kind of have that bell curve you have a certain percentage on one side and a certain percentage on the other side and there's a lot of people in between that are trying to decide."

The state's limit of 50 people is a struggle for churches that can hold hundreds. Over at The Rock Church senior pastor Kirk Winters says the regulations are challenging to work with and still provide for his large congregation.

"It's seems like the way the governor has said 50 or less is going to work for the smaller churches but it's very inconvenient for the larger churches."

The Rock Church in Bangor is still putting the finishing touches on a new building.

They had planned to hold their first service in the 550 seat space March 22nd, but then everything shut down.

"50 people in this building is going to feel funny."

He says the limit doesn't make sense when they have so much space.

"It's a little frustrating knowing that we have to adhere to this. If you look at for example Massachusetts which has a lot more deaths, over 6000 Covid deaths they're going with a percentage. So 40% capacity churches. Which seems a little more fair."

Both churches are encouraging members to follow CDC guidelines and are ramping up cleaning and safety measures.

Those who can't or don't want to attend in person can still watch a livestream.

"Virtual services are wonderful but they lack quite a bit." says Mick.

The two churches have also adopted a first-come first-serve approach for now, though at Crosspoint churchgoers have to reserve their spot online ahead of time.

"Whenever this gets behind us we'll look forward to everybody once again getting back together."

"We're going to focus on what matters and that is the worship of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ." said Winters.