State Deems Churches Essential, Locals Decide Whether to Hold Services

Photo courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

In an executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott deemed worship services essential. This has left churches across Texas to make personal decisions on whether to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to senior pastor of Huntsville’s First United Methodist Church Daniel Irving, the church typically holds three services, but has changed to only one service that is livestreamed through their website.

“It’s really being used by the community to tune in and to participate in worship live with the rest of the church,” Irving said. “We moved all of our Bible studies online as well, and we have many of our small groups and Sunday school classes using Zoom so they can see each other’s faces and interact through that.”

The pastors and staff at the church make weekly calls to the congregation to check in and pray with them. They also host a Facebook live devotional twice a day for the members of the church.

“This is just a tragic situation for everyone around the world, but we have a strong church and a strong community, and we know that God is with us and we’ll get through this,” Irving said.

According to pastor David Beaty of Huntsville’s Grace Baptist Church, the church has decided to remain open and continue their regular service hours.

“I’m thankful that our governor is responding differently from most of the governors across the country,” Beaty said. “That he did go ahead and declare that churches are essential and church services are essential, so we’re appreciative of that.”

With fewer church members attending services, the church can sit families away from each other and try to practice social distancing, explained Beaty. The church handed out face masks to all attendees of their last meeting.

“If we’re not able to worship Christ and give God Christ the glory over an inconvenience, then we’ve forgotten the price that he paid for us,” Beaty said.

Editors note: We reached out to every church listed on the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce website and included all of the responses we received in this article.

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