Lowcountry churches make changes to combat the spread of Coronavirus

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Big decisions are being made in places of worship across the Lowcountry following the recent recommendations to limit public gatherings. Some churches are finding the transition more difficult than others.

While some churches frequently use video streaming as a tool in their worship; many don’t utilize technology to broadcast their sermons. For example, Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant who recently cancelled in-person services indefinitely.

Reverend Dr. Michael Fitze is the pastor at Palmetto Presbyterian. He is strongly considering videotaping his sermon for this Sunday however, has a bit of hesitation.

“Part of the thing about preaching is your doing it with people. So it’s going to be very awkward to try and do the sermon without anybody there,” says Fitze.

Fitze says that adding the technological layer makes the experience feel more “artificial” to him. He believes that while preaching isn’t necessarily a conversation; the energy of the room makes a world of difference.

In contrast, Seacoast Church’s Mount Pleasant branch is no stranger to streaming. In fact, a big part of their worship services includes the livestreams on their website and Facebook.

The church recently closed all 13 of their branches and offices to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Creative Director Jack Hoey says that because of their platform, they were more than prepared for a situation like this.

We’re concerned that there are smaller churches that don’t have the same capability that we do,” says Hoey. “For us, we’re actually set up for this moment really well.”

With multiple church services broadcasted per week, they can reach up to 14,000 individuals in North Carolina and South Carolina. Hoey says that number jumped up to 20,000 last week.

“In a sense, it’s just part of our rhythm, but expanding on that. We don’t see this as a time where we’re going to do less, we see this as a time where we’re going to do a lot more,” says Hoey.

With smaller churches like Palmetto Presbyterian that rely on in-person services; this time could be seen as challenge. Reverend Fitze says that his biggest concern is members of the congregation falling into the habit of not attending church on Sundays.

“If we go for 8 weeks or longer, it’s really going to be hard to bring people back into the habit of worship every Sunday,” says Fitze.

Both churches plan to stay closed at least for the rest of the month. For more information on Palmetto Presbyterian’s schedule, click here. For a link to Seacoast Church’s livestreams, click here.

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