Churches use alternative ways to worship on Palm Sunday

Sanford church practices social distancing during in-person service

SANFORD, Fla. – Churches across Central Florida are congregating in different ways for their Palm Sunday services.

Church in the Son in Orlando prayed with its members through Facebook Live.

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"Wherever you are, whoever you're with, God is with all of us," Executive Pastor Jonathan D'Angelo said.

The Diocese of Orlando streamed its Palm Sunday mass on YouTube.

Many churches and religious organizations are seeking alternative ways to worship, including streaming their services online. A church in Mt. Dora is hosting drive-in church services.

According to Governor Ron DeSantis' order, religious services are considered an "essential activity" and are allowed.

In Seminole County, leaders said the social distancing order still stands, which means churches can gather, but they can't have more than 10 people and they must be 6 feet apart.

Pastor C.J. Haynes of New Salem Primitive Baptist Church in Sanford held service Sunday morning. He said they received permission from the Governor's office and Seminole County to gather.

Haynes said they do not intend to break the rules. He adds they are following social distancing guidelines, sanitizing the sanctuary, and asking elderly church members to stay home.

He said they stream their service online, but he wants to give people the option to practice their faith in person.

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"As long as we cannot add any risk to the congregates or add any risk to our community, I think it's important for those that need a word of hope, that need to have that feeling that they have in church gatherings and to be around other believers and to give them that option," Haynes said.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said on Friday during a news conference he will enforce the order, but he is not looking to start a battle with religious leaders.

“If we get complaints, we’re going to go out there and warn our pastors and we’re going to work with our pastors,” Lemma said. “These are good men and women who are clearly making decisions they feel is in the best interest of their church community. Nobody out there, none of these pastors and religious leaders would intentionally do something that brings harm to others.”

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