Lynchburg churches seeing unique change after COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Churches are seeing a unique change in congregations less than two weeks after coronavirus restrictions were lifted. Places of worship are bringing people closer together again, but some Lynchburg church leaders say the convenience of going to virtual services might be preferable to some.

According to the Youth Pastor of Chestnut Hill Baptist Church, Mark Simpson, “In general, I see where a lot of churches may struggle because there is that convenience of being able to stay at home on a Sunday morning, flip a switch and have the TV on.”

Simpson says since folks have had to depend on virtual service, it’s been difficult for some to bounce back and return in person.

“I think some people will get tired of being at home and want to go back to the sanctuary,” said Simpson. “It’s just a matter of when.”

The pastor also says they’ve seen folks trickling in more over the weeks.

In the words of churchgoer Alysa Ridgeway, “Virtually, you still get the message but in-person is definitely a lot more relatable…It’s definitely a lot more personable. You can relate a lot more to the messages that are relayed.”

Monsignor Michael McCarron at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church says before the pandemic, they’d have almost 800 attendees. During the pandemic, they hosted just over 300.

“With our ushering team seating them, we were able to ensure that social distancing was preserved. Now with the changes and regulations, people are able to seat themselves,” McCarron said.

The church is now asking that there be a space for one chair between you and the person or group next to you.

“If we’re going to worship him we have to worship him not as isolated individuals but as people who are trying to be in a relationship and in love,” said McCarron.

Now that they have a live stream option, like many places of worship, they plan to continue offering it.

McCarron says Sunday, May 30 was their first time loosening some social distancing limitations. They saw a little over 200 attend, which was less than expected, but they’re hoping that numbers increase again after the holiday.

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