Alongside Texas businesses, many churches reopened their doors last weekend, after closing for weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Unlike their out-of-town counterparts, some El Campo churches were hesitant to reopen right away.
Christ Lutheran Church in El Campo will not be resuming in-person services until at least May 31, according to Pastor Wayne Clement. During the last couple of months, Sunday services have been held through KULP radio and also posted on social media.
“We’re watching closely what the governor says, and his recommendations,” Clement said. “We have a quite large number of folks within our church that fall in that high risk category. We want to make sure that we take every possible step we can to protect them.”
As of May 1, Abbott allowed Texas churches to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Churches are required to sanitize seating in between services, screen employees and volunteers and to strongly recommend at-risk members of the congregation participate in at-home services.
Two seats or six feet of space will be required between each church attendee, unless they are attending the service together or are from the same household.
Power Church, a non-denominational church in El Campo and Bay City, discontinued in-person services during the pandemic in favor of parking lot services.
“We merged El Campo with Bay City for now, and we are having church outside, a drive-in service in Bay City,” Pastor Frac Paiz said.
Paiz said he plans to stick to drive-in services for the time being, just to be safe. He did not know when in-person or El Campo services will resume for the church.
St. Robert’s Catholic church have held online services during the pandemic, and resumed in-person masses two weeks ago. Bishop Brendan Cahill, the Diocese of Victoria, released guidelines for churches returning to in-person masses on April 28.
El Campo leaders for First Baptist Church will meet May 18 to discuss reopening the church for in-person services. In the meantime, the congregation will continue to meet through video chat and services will be held online and over the radio.
Faith Lutheran Church leaders have chosen to wait until the end of May to reopen.
“We’re just waiting to see how things are going to pan out with this virus,” Church Elder Gary Pflughaupt said. “We don’t want to rush it and we feel like we don’t want to be the cause of contributing to anybody getting sick.”
Online sermons have not been held, but the congregation has been studying bible verses at home during the pandemic. Once in-person services resume, Pflughaupt said there should be plenty of space for the congregation to social distance.