COVID-19 woes creating changes for church

FILE PHOTO
First Baptist Church in Lake Isabella offers live-streamed services and other options as part of its adjustment in a COVID-19 world.

BY CHARMAINE LITTLE

After being required to close their doors and comply with social distancing guidelines, some local churches have had no choice but to adjust to all of the changes that have come along with COVID-19.

From holding services outdoors to going completely online, religious gatherings have taken on a different appearance since the pandemic’s impact was made clear earlier this year.

First Baptist Church in Lake Isabella offers livestream services Sundays at 9:30 a.m. It has also opened an outdoor learning center for students that features high-speed internet, a work area covered with shade, and learning assistance. All this takes place six feet apart, complying with social distancing requirements. Students are required to wear masks when walking to and from their working space, or if they’re less than six feet away from someone else. Volunteers also wear masks if less than six feet away from students.

While the church has been able to get used to the new normal, it has still been tough.

“It has been very hard for our elderly, for sure, to be away from everyone else,” Karen Bennett, First Baptist Church’s secretary, told the Kern Valley Sun.

The elderly have been grouped as a vulnerable population when it comes to exposure and getting treated for the coronavirus. But others also are not having a smooth transition.

“We have folks in our church that are going through very difficult times because of being separated from everyone,” Bennett said.

First Baptist has implemented solutions in an effort to deliver a worship experience to its members regularly.

“We are doing livestreaming and an outdoor service as well right now. It’s just not the same being able to fellowship [with] each other.”

Mountain View Church of Lake Isabella has provided similar experiences, offering outdoor worship services on Sundays. It also provides virtual replays on YouTube.

Life Church is another local organization that has adjusted: it goes live online every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Midweek Bible study services are also offered via Zoom.

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