WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Masks are not required in places of worship under New Hanover County’s new indoor mask mandate, but some churches still have safety protocols in place.
Pine Valley United Methodist Church is encouraging masks for in person services and gatherings. The decision was made shortly after the county announced their mask mandate.
“So, we want to be as safe as we can, but we also want to give folks the personal responsibility and do what’s comfortable for them,” said PVUMC Pastor Tim Reaves.
The pandemic has brought change in many ways. “Probably, I would say about 80% of what we were having pre-COVID in person, but our online numbers are staying up,” said Reaves.
More members are attending Sunday services virtually, and for bible studies, too. “We’re doing a lot of our bible studies as a hybrid, so that folks can gather who feel safe doing that, and folks can also do it per Zoom and be right in their own home,” said Reaves. “We’ve had people take part of our bible studies from other states.”
Reaves said the virtual option will stay in place if that’s how members feel comfortable. For those attending in person, they can continue to utilize the increased number of hand sanitizing stations around the campus. “We have hand sanitizers all around, we’re not passing the offering plate, we have a box for folks to put that in on their own,” said Reaves. Staff members are also working to disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Leaders at PVUMC also said that most members have naturally socially distanced themselves inside the church.
“It’s a new normal,” said PVUMC Director of Marketing, Communications, and Community Relations Amy Byers.
She, like many others, have adjusted throughout the pandemic, and feel safe with the church’s safety protocols. “I personally feel honored and blessed that people might put political reasons aside, or individual reasons aside and they’re not letting that impact their worship of the Lord,” said Byers.
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