ELKINS, WV (WBOY) – Churches across the state started to reopen this weekend.
Some have been a little weary of how to go about reopening, especially due to outbreaks across the state happening within church congregations, but the Elkins Family Worship Center has been reintegrating their members into the building for a couple of weeks, slowly and safely.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in the state, the church focused on keeping their members safe. Senior Pastor Jamie Estep and other church officials immediately looked into ways of continuing worship opportunities such as holding outdoor services in the parking lot next door.
“As soon as the closing started happening, we went straight to the parking lot,” he said. “We did parking lot church I think for nine weeks, didn’t know what to expect but God moved beautifully.”
Estep said the attendance for the outdoor church services was high and the weather was nice. On Easter Sunday, attendance reached nearly 220 people.
He said the church was able to provide pre-made communion and music to help the members of the congregation feel as connected as possible while being safe.
“We were very strategic out there, even in how we parked cars and how that we had our praise and how we had our worship team stand,” he said.
Estep also said the church has been affected in ways other than Sunday morning services. He explained all children’s programs have been put on hold until officials feel as though they are able to hold them safely and holidays such as Easter and Mother’s day had to be less eventful than what they are used to.
“Mother’s Day is honestly one of the greatest days in our church calendar and honestly, it was nothing besides giving some flowers away,” he said.
Although the church wants to work on getting back to normal, Estep knows taking baby steps to ensure safety is key.
“We have limited our openings. We don’t open the church up until 30 minutes prior to try to limit the amount of congregating,” Estep said. “We’ve got certain doors, the way that we flow traffic, the way that we dismiss, we’re blessed that we have the opportunity for multiple exits.”
The church seats members by the size of families. The bigger the family, the more spread out they will be. They also have sectioned off every other pew and closed the balcony.
“People have kind of have I don’t want to use the word bought into the social distancing,” Estep said. “But they understand the need of it right now and they understand that it’s what has to be done. So, for the most part, they naturally social distance themselves.”
Estep also said all but two the restrooms have been closed off. They have also designated two cleaning officials to make sure the restroom is cleaned after every person leaves it.
Estep added the church is taking it week by week, having meetings with the security team and keeping tabs on guidelines and statements from the DHHR on how to proceed.
“One person better than last Sunday. If we can create the opportunity for one more person to come to worship, a sense of normalcy in their life, a message of hope, a message of restoration, then we’ve been successful right now.”Pastor Estep
The Elkins Family Worship Center is currently holding services on Sundays at 11 a.m. Anyone who would like to keep up with the church and watch online services should check out their Facebook page.