Local churches reopen outdoors

Tonia Ross | Banner | Daniel Bishop, the lead pastor at The Grove Community Church, gives his sermon outside to maintain social distance.

Some local churches have initiated their in-person reopening processes as the pandemic progresses. Many of these churches have adapted their services to abide by COVID-19 precautions such as social distancing and wearing face coverings.

The churches Harvest Christian Fellowship, Redeemer Baptist Church and The Grove Community Church are offering outdoor services, and Sandals Church is now offering a variety of options, including forms of both indoor and outdoor services and small groups. These churches also offer online and live streaming options for services.

Sedona Gallardo, freshman liberal arts major, attends Harvest Christian Fellowship and has found ways to connect with the church by attending services and planning to join the young adult ministry. Currently, the church is allowing people to attend outdoor tent services with restrictions and precautions such as requiring face coverings, social distancing and sanitizing chairs.

“I think there is a need for the church in person right now and I think church can be done safely at this time,” Gallardo said. “While I do not know data about cases at Harvest or if COVID has been contracted at other churches, I feel safe going to Harvest at this time.”

Jon Hurst, executive pastor of The Grove Community Church, said The Grove transferred to online services during the shutdown earlier this year and began outdoor in-person services in June. The church also began in-person meetings for some ministries, such as the young adult and small group ministries. 

During in-person meetings, the church implements precautions which include requiring face coverings, using social distancing markers and requiring volunteers to wear masks and gloves and maintain social distance. Also, the church is still offering online resources and services.

“The vision of The Grove is that we are being changed by God to reach all people, and that has not stopped or slowed down during COVID,” Hurst said. “We have been able to reach out to people in a new way. Now is a fantastic time to get involved and it is a great time for people to grow in their faith and trust in God.”

Dr. John Montgomery, Dean of Spiritual Life, said that if students are interested in becoming involved in a church in the area, they can visit the Spiritual Life page of InsideCBU and visit the church area directory posted there. The directory contains a list of local churches that align with CBU’s beliefs. Students can then become connected with local churches online and learn what opportunities and ministries the church is offering during the pandemic.

“Things have changed (during the pandemic), and it is not as easy to access spiritual growth in the community,” Montgomery said. “Because it is not easy to access, we have to work harder to get that. I would encourage students to be intentional during this season and to think through what they need to do to grow spiritually.”

Montgomery said students can also use on-campus resources to grow spiritually through Chapel, discipleship groups and other resources offered through California Baptist University’s Spiritual Life website.

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