Churches across Lancaster County made changes to their Sunday services to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Some congregations still met physically, while others livestreamed or posted sermons online.
Revs. Hans Becklin and Marissa Becklin, pastors of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kissel Hill and Faith United Evangelical Lutheran Church, respectively, held a livestreamed joint service for both churches. The pastors, a married couple, streamed the service from their living room.
While it was live, Sunday’s 9:30 a.m. service had about 120 views, which the Becklins said was a little less than the churches’ average attendance combined.
In fact, a few congregants living in Scotland and Florida were able to tune in for the Sunday service, Marissa Becklin said.
Livestreaming, she said, widened the church’s reach.
Mill Creek Bible Church, located in East Lampeter Township, has an average 145 attendees and decided to meet in person Sunday since it’s a smaller church, Rev. Phil Good said.
However, the church added some precautions. Elderly attendees stayed home, Good said, and shaking hands and hugging was not encouraged.
A basket was also set out to collect the offering instead of passing around offering plates, Good said.
Forest Hills Mennonite Church, located in Leola, decided Friday that they wouldn’t have any in-person services Sunday, said Jon Carlson, lead pastor.
Videoconferencing calls for elementary-aged children and the high school youth group were offered. Forest Hills also created a playlist with worship songs.
A pre-recorded sermon by Carlson was also posted to Facebook, Carlson said.
While digital services work for some, Carlson acknowledges they don’t serve Forest Hills’ entire community, as some might not have access to the internet or know how to use it.
“We’re brainstorming ways to connect with and encourage them while respecting best practices about limiting exposure,” he said.
Worship Center, which typically livestreams its services, received about 8,300 views on its Sunday service despite a technical difficulty, said Dustin Leed, director of digital ministry.
The church, located on New Holland Pike, typically holds three services a week and sees about 1,100 congregants per service.
The livestreamed service went well despite the glitch, Leed said, and congregants were appreciative.