FAITH IN THE UNEXPECTED: Church activities return as COVID declines – The Vicksburg Post

Two years ago, pastors of churches in the region found themselves in a position they had never anticipated; denying parishioners access to one of the few places people can go when they are hurting and in need – the church.

As one of the biblical plagues in Egypt, COVID-19 has erupted, sickening many people, causing fear of contamination in others, and making it difficult for pastors to care for their flocks.

And because churches were closed, they had to find other ways to reach their congregations by turning to the internet and streaming services on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

But as the pandemic progressed and began to show signs of waning, pastors and their flocks began to slowly return to church; first under restrictions like masks and social distancing, then under less restrictive but still cautious measures.

Now, as the pandemic slowly dissipates and the threat of the Omicron variant diminishes, some pastors say they are returning to their regular activities.

“We’re in full gear,” said First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Matt Buckles. “We went back to a full schedule; back to full ministries. We’ve come back in increments, but since the last month we’ve been full steam ahead. Our attendance has increased; our activities are in full swing.

The Reverend Kevin Bradley, pastor of Crawford Street United Methodist Church, said the church had no restrictions.

“We’re open and encouraging people to come back,” Bradley said. “We’re letting people know if you’re more comfortable with your mask on, we have masks available and we have hand sanitizer available and we’ve put the filters in the HVAC units which are supposed to help control viruses and will continue to stay.

“We are back with our full Wednesday schedules and of course Sunday morning worship as well,” he added. “The various circles and our board and committee meetings are also meeting in person.”

He said people can participate via Zoom if they want.

Joanna King, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, said the diocese has allowed parishes to make some local decisions on their own regarding the management of COVID “since the local reality and composition of our parishes around the diocese varies enormously. . ”

She said the diocese encourages the use of masks, but they are not mandatory, adding that the Council of Priests, which advises the bishop, still does not advise offering wine to parishioners due to concerns. health related to the virus.

“All of our ministries are fully safeguarded. We are able to plan family and community events and we are delighted to be able to do so, ”said a spokesperson for Crossways Church, adding that people can always wear masks when coming to services and events. they wish.

The drop in the pandemic also means the return of an annual event to Hawkins United Methodist Church, 3736 Halls Ferry Road.

After a two-year absence, the church will hold its church-wide barbecue chicken dinner and yard sale on April 2 with barbecue chicken dinners, a bake sale, and plant and garden sales. garage at the church. Proceeds are used by Hawkins United Methodist men’s and women’s groups to fund mission projects in the Vicksburg area.

The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has allowed its rectors to resume normal activities, said Sam Godfrey, rector of Christ Episcopal Church.

“We have been instructed to use normal practices but always being mindful of our local situation,” Godfrey said. “We have resumed the use of the common chalice from last Sunday with the authorization of the diocese.”

He added that people who wish to dip bread in wine can do so.

“We have our Bible studies and we will have our Holy Week services,” Godfrey added.

Charles K. Eckert