Louisiana churches hold first outdoor services in weeks due to COVID-19
Many Louisiana churches are hosting outdoor services for the first time in several weeks due to COVID-19. Many services have continued in online formats since Governor John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order in March.
Pastor Frank Stewart led his Christian Fellowship Church congregation in the parking lot on Sunday. He says it was a great feeling for his members to be together again. “They get very excited when they haven’t seen the person they’re sitting beside in three or four weeks and things like that,” Stewart says. “So, it just brings on a refreshing that makes you feel at home.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Edwards extended the stay-at-home order for the state. One of the differences though allowed churches to hold service outdoors while following guidelines like social distancing rules and wearing masks.
“We do believe churches can be conducted safely outdoors,” Edwards said in a press conference. He encouraged people who did not feel safe to take part to stay at home. “For those who do come, people in the same household can sit together, but nobody should be sitting within six feet of someone who isn’t from their household.”
Pastor Sandra Stewart says the social distancing is the hardest challenge for their members. “We love to interact, and with the social distancing and all of that, everybody staying in their cars and we just do the wave,” she says.
Pastor Sandra says switching to online and even Sunday’s outdoor service has brought more challenges too, but they’re embracing this “new thing.”
“We have learned to praise God with our horns as well. So, that’s our new hallelujah.”
“Just like we had in the building, the same joy was carried out of the building. So, we hadn’t lost anything,” Pastor Frank adds.
Pastor Sandra says although they’re glad they can convene in one space again, they'll rejoice when they're able to return to the four walls of their church.