Local churches navigate in-person worship amid pandemic

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Some may argue that places of worship are a crucial source of strength, community, and solace for many Americans. During the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, many churches either stopped meeting or moved their services online. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray spoke with local pastors on what the new year will bring for members of their congregation amid the pandemic.

Social distancing in pews and online prayers. Peace Church in Eau Claire is back to hosting in-person services, at a limited occupancy to deliver the message of the gospel.

Pastor David Forke of Peace Church said, “There’s a sense of tiredness that people have like when is this going to be over, so we’re really focusing right now on how we the church can help bring some hope and peace to situations around us.”

Each Sunday service is live-streamed for members not able to be physically at the church. Pastor David Forke says his congregation has been missing that connection.

“People are just telling us thank you so much and you see it in their faces, at least the part of the face you can see and you can see in their voices how thrilled they are to worship together and to spend a little time seeing their friends,” said Forke.

Zion Lutheran Church on County road has developed a radio broadcast to the parking lot for those who may be uncomfortable with gathering indoors on Sundays.

In addition to the broadcast, Pastor Timothy Moe preaches two services on Sundays to allow for socially distanced, in-person worship.

Moe said, “There’s nothing like meeting in person and ultimately that is what the church is supposed to do, is to gather.”

Pastor Moe says people may not realize how much of an impact the pandemic has had on people spiritually.

“Instead of cursing the darkness, we light a candle and a lot of people around here have been doing that, they’ve been finding new ways that we can reach out and do ministry,” said Moe.

Ultimately both pastors say they’re waiting for the day, they can have a full congregation in prayer under one roof.

The hope is that we can get back together and shake hands again and talk face-to-face,” said Moe.

“For many people, the church feels like a home away from home and they miss even being here in the building,” said Forke.

Until then, they’re grateful that virtual or broadcasted prayer is able to reach the greater body of their churches.

In Eau Claire, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.

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