A sign leading to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
on Gilmer Avenue
Churches make changes with COVID-19 scare
By Michael Butler
Easter is Sunday, a day when people of faith normally attend church services, but these aren't normal times.
Churches have resorted to virtual services in most cases over the past month due to the widespread coronavirus.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday. Many churches had already taken measures that included the elimination of traditional services. Still, attending religious services is exempt from the governor's recent order.
God's Congregation Holiness Church in Jordanville has continued conducting services on site.
"We know that we are one of the few churches here in Tallassee and surrounding areas that are holding services," Pastor Adolphus Gauntt stated, "but we are going to trust God and be as cautious as we can by doing the necessary things we need to do during this time."
Gauntt added that the church on Jordan Avenue also offers video via the internet for those who would prefer to worship from their homes.
"We are streaming live on Facebook for our members, family and friends here and in other states and countries," he said. "We are also making phone calls, emailing and texting scriptures for prayer and comfort. With so many churches closed, people everywhere are looking for hope."
Alternative methods for worship have become standard among other area churches including First Baptist Church in Tallassee, where Derek Gentle is the pastor.
"Even if church members cannot all be in the same place, we can all be in the same passage," Gentle noted. "Since Tuesday, March 24, members have been challenged to read one chapter per day from the Gospel of John. At that pace, everyone will arrive at Chapter 20, which recounts the resurrection of Christ, on Easter Sunday."
First Baptist is providing two weekly services online; the Sunday morning worship service at 10 a.m. and a “Midweek Moment” posted on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Both are available on YouTube and Facebook.
"Each of these services includes a bible story to make them child friendly. In addition, there are video Sunday School lessons available each week. Student Minister, Brandon Fomby, has an Instagram time available for the youth group on Fridays. The messages are all taken from the chapter of the day in John."
First Baptist has also made arrangements for the traditional observance of the Lord's Supper in an untraditional way.
"(We'll) be observing the Lord’s Supper in an online Upper Room Service on Thursday evening, April 9," Gentle added. "Members will be able to come by the church drive-through and pick up the manufacturer pre-packaged elements (the bread and the cup) at an announced time. Those who cannot get out of their homes can call the church office and have the elements dropped off at their door by volunteers. Everyone will partake at the same time in the online service, livestreamed on YouTube and on Facebook."
First United Methodist Church of Tallassee pastor Clint McBroom has also gone to the World Wide Web for distribution of church content.
"Like many churches, we have moved to streaming our worship on Facebook Live every Sunday morning," McBroom said. "We've moved to having one service at 10 a.m. each Sunday, and directed people to our Facebook page and web page to view it. Our staff has worked to keep everyone connected and growing spiritually even though we're not able to meet in person.
"I've started a devotional every weekday morning at 11 on the church's Facebook page. Cory and Hillary Eckstein, our student and children's directors, have been holding Zoom studies on Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as organized a drive-by Easter egg hunt for the kids. Leslye Ames, our director of music ministries, has organized "Stations of the Cross" that began on Monday, April 5 and can be accessed from our church website."
McBroom will lead an Easter service on Sunday, April 12 from the Tallassee Shopping Center parking lot across from J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium. Attendees will have access to the service from their cars with an audio feed on 102.5 FM.
"We're going to try something a little different, a drive-in worship service. We're inviting anyone in the community to come be a part of this."
The traditional 11 a.m. service will be broadcast on Facbook Live.
1300 WTLS/106.5 FM also offers programming on Sundays from 6 a.m. - 12 p.m.
WTLS Sunday Morning Lineup
6 a.m. - Bill Gaither Homecoming Radio
7 a.m. -
Berean Baptist Church
7:30 a.m. - Friendship Baptist Church
8:00 a.m. - First Presbyterian Church
8:30 a.m. - Gospel in the Morningtime with Charles Blalock and Isaac Brown
9:00 a.m. - God's Congregation Holiness Church
10 a.m. - First Baptist Church
11 a.m. - First Methodist Church