SWFL church leaders prepared to promote safety amid COVID-19 case surge
Churches are moving services online, as they start to see coronavirus cases rise in their community.
Churches we spoke to Wednesday are taking precautions to keep people safe, and if they have to temporarily revert back to online services, several church leaders told us they have the experience necessary to make that transition back online.
Crosspoint Christian Church in Cape Coral closed its doors after some staff tested positive for COVID-19, including vaccinated members.
Pastor Jeff Swearingen of Crosspoint says their one-week pause will be lifted Friday, and in-person services will resume during the weekend.
Last week, Swearingen shared with this message with church members.
“In the last few days, some of our staff, both vaccinated and unvaccinated have tested positive for COVID,” Swearingen said.
The pastor told us those who are sick have mild symptoms. Those who had close contact have been testing negative.
Other churches say they’re having challenges of their own.
“One of our pastors tested positive, who was vaccinated,” said lead pastor Jorge Acevedo of Grace Church. “A few of our other staff, all of us have been rapid tested. Those that were around.”
Grace Church has not cancelled in-person services, but Acevedo says they have that ability.
“If it gets to be critical where we need to go back to all masks, we’ll do that,” Acevedo said. “If we have to go back to all online, we will do that.”
Multiple churches told us they’re encouraging members to mask up. One church leader told us people have been taking it upon themselves.
“Last Sunday, practically everybody in the church was wearing masks,” explained founding pastor Ricky Sanderson of Followers of Christ Fellowship Ministries.
Sanderson says his services are both in person and online. They’ll stay online after the pandemic ends as well. He says many people, including seniors, are taking advantage of it.
“I had them tell the church how they enjoy being able to be in prayer meetings and bible study at home,” Sanderson said. “So the older ones are the ones that really inspire me to be able to do Zoom for them, so they can participate.”
Acevedo is among church leaders who say they’re now encouraging masks again during worship, and he wants people to be kind to those who choose to wear them again.
“We love one another and we want to be careful and take care of one another,” Sanderson said. “And part of the way we do that is to honor our differences.”