Local Churches Adapt Amid COVID-19 Crisis

by Eplunus Colvin
Pastor Gilbert Byrd Jr.’s wife, Sherri Byrd of ATMBC who is also a nurse, screened the small congregation and took their temperature before entrance into the sanctuary. The congregation used social distancing. Pastor Gilbert Byrd Jr.’s wife, Sherri Byrd of ATMBC who is also a nurse, screened the small congregation and took their temperature before entrance into the sanctuary. The congregation used social distancing.

Usually on Sunday mornings, the streets are full of churchgoers as they travel to their place of worship. Church buses can be seen ripping and running down Main Street.

On Sunday, March 22, things were quite different. There was little to no activity in town and most church parking lots were empty. On Sunday, 165 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in the state of Arkansas.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has pleaded with Arkansans to follow the guidelines set by the CDC and the ADH which is no large gatherings of 10 or more. if you have to be out, practice social distancing, which is to remain at least 6 feet apart and good hand hygiene.

While those guidelines are set forth for the state, Hutchinson encouraged churches to follow those same guidelines as a precautionary.

Some churches canceled services because they have large congregations exceeding the 10 or more guidelines. For smaller congregations, it was easier to maintain social distancing, with each household occupying their own row.

“They don’t want to take risks, might have an elderly congregation, but you’re going to have other churches that are going to be creative,” said Hutchinson. “They are going to practice social distancing.”

First Baptist of Stuttgart had their pre-recorded service on their website and Facebook page. Stuttgart Harvest Church will live stream Sunday morning worship at 10:30 AM on Facebook Live and YouTube. Children's worship experience will be on Monday nights at 7:00 PM on Facebook Live. An additional Wednesday night adult worship experience will take place at 7:30 PM on Facebook Live as well as 105.5 The Duck. Saint John's Lutheran Church live stream will be found at stjohnsstuttgartar.org and the radio broadcast will be at 10:15 a.m. on 105.5. The Bridge Church in Stuttgart will live stream service via Facebook at 10:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on YouTube channel Pastor Eric J Jones. Grand Avenue UMC will have a prerecorded devotional and sermon available Sunday morning. Faith Baptist Dewitt will live stream at 8:30 am and Calvary Missionary Baptist will be live streaming their service at 11:00 a.m. St Alban's Episcopal Church is live streaming on Facebook at 10:30. Daily morning prayer will be Monday-Friday at 9 am, and evening prayer at 5 pm. Virtual bible study on the psalms Wednesdays at 6 pm. Humphrey Baptist Church will Facebook live at 11:00 am. and Celebration Church of Humphrey will live streams Sunday morning and Sunday night services at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Livestream only is available for Southside Baptist Church at 10:30am and 6:45pm. Allen Temple MBC also has live stream available on Sunday 10:30 a.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Victor’s Empowerment Center will live stream from their Facebook page and First United Methodist will be live streaming their service at 10:15 am on Sunday. Go to www.stuttgartfumc.org and click on Worship then Live Stream. Southside Baptist Church will live stream Sunday worship services at 10:30 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. only allowing worship leaders and media staff. Family Christian Fellowship of Hazen will stream on Facebook live on Sunday at 10 a.m., Lighthouse Church will stream live at 10:00am and Bayou Meto UMC will stream on Facebook Live at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings until further notice.

If the information for your church is not included, please feel free to let us know by email at editor@dewitt-ee.com.

The Arkansas Department of health has offered guidance for faith-based organizations, which can be found at www.healthyarkansas.gov.

According to the CDC all 50 states have at least one confirmed positive COVID-19 case with numbers expectant to grow.