ORLANDO, Fla. – With the first weekend since the beginning phase of the state’s reopening process, some houses of worship are getting ready to offer in-person services for the first time since the shutdown.
Bishop Clint Brown, senior pastor at Judah Church, showed News 6 their Orlando location and how they have prepared for the five services they’re hosting Sunday.
“When your whole existence is gathering together, it’s been a tremendous challenge,” he said. “All greeters will be in masks and gloves, and we’re going to do our best to keep everyone safe, but let them have the experience of coming back to church. The experience is everything to us.”
Brown said the church has spent $5,000 between their two locations on preparing to reopen, including sanitizing surfaces, installing an air purification system, adding hand sanitizer stations and buying up masks.
Brown said no one will be allowed inside without a mask, and the space will hold five services on Sunday, instead of their regular two, to help out with only allowing 25% capacity.
Families will be allowed to sit together, Brown added. However, older individuals are asked to stay home.
“The sanctuary doors will be open at all times, so you can literally walk from your car straight to your seat, and you don’t have to touch anything if you don’t want to or don’t need to,” Brown said. “We’ve tried to make every precaution we can to make people safe.”
However, not every location is ready to reopen.
News 6 showcased on Thursday Roderick Zak is pastor at Rejoice in the Lord Ministries in Apopka. He devised a plan for when his church might return to in-person services, but for now, he said it’s just too soon, despite Mother’s Day this Sunday.
“We’re optimistic and full of faith, but we’d rather exercise caution,” Zak said Thursday. “We want to make sure that health, safety and well-being is the priority.”
Part of Zak’s reopening will include social distancing and possibly requiring people to wear masks. He said he also might limit the amount of signing from his congregation.
“You’re talking about first responders. I might have some police officers, I might have some healthcare professionals, all of those [people] in the same place,” Zak said.
Zak is also on the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. He said he’s been relying on his faith, even through this storm.
“We can transcend what’s happening on the outside. Inward, we can experience peace,” Zak said.
Mayor Jerry Demings is hosting a virtual town hall from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday for every house of worship to learn best practices and guidelines to safely reopen.