MADISON, Ala. – It’s been about two months since some pastors welcomed members back into their church buildings. Even though churches are settling into their new normal, local ministries are still feeling the effects of COVID-19.
The pastor of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Madison said while his church’s doors are open, much of his congregation is still staying home.
“Having 50 percent of your congregation, that is also difficult,” said Pastor Geoff Hatley “You’re not able to see them. You’re not able to interact with them as much. So I think for all of the pastors I know, and for me as a pastor, cause we’re used to being able to interact. I’m used to being able to interact with my people. Discipleship is a big deal to me, meeting with them is a big deal to me.”
Those Hatley does see on Sunday, follow new rules. Church members in the first service sit in odd rows, and in the second, they sit in even rows. This allows for social distancing and sanitizing between services, but Hatley said tithes and offerings are down.
“We’re probably down about 10 percent on the year,” he said.
Hatley said the church took out federal loans to prevent pay cuts and layoffs.
Despite those impacts, Hatley said engineers within his congregation came together to help the church advance technology so that it will be able to live stream church services. Before the pandemic, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church was not able to do that. Now, the pastor said he’s able to connect with the other half of his congregation.
“We’re in an engineering town, and so I think the folks in my congregation really loved it,” Hatley said. “The engineers I had coming in really worked hard on doing that.”
Hatley said with help like that, and with prayer, he’s getting by one Sunday service at a time.
Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church requires members to wear masks, but the church also has a special seating area on the second floor for church goers who cannot mask up due to health reasons.