TULSA, Okla. — Churches in Oklahoma are making plans to slowly ease back to in-person services as part of Governor Kevin Stitt’s phase one.
“Our people long to be face to face. They long to be able to set in the same room, be able to worship together," said Heath Tucker, the pastor at First Baptist Church of Skiatook.
Churches are listed as essential, allowing services to resume May 1.
However, some churches are taking their time, looking at ways to slowly bring people back together.
“We are hearing lots of different things and we’re trying to weigh all of our options before we decide for sure when we are going to open," said Tucker. “One of the ideas that we’ve been kicking around is maybe having neighborhood live stream watch services to where maybe a neighborhood or a street at least, someone puts the TV out on the lawn and people come set in their chairs.”
They’re also thinking about drive-thru services, similar to Victory Church in Tulsa.
“People were honking, turning on their hazard lights," said Victory Church Pastor Paul Daugherty. "They are loving it; streaming it through their FM radio.”
Daugherty said now that they’ve been given the green light, they’re planning to hold their first service Mother’s Day weekend, but first figuring out how best to make the changes and keep church members safe.
“There’s a lot of opinions on all of this and as a pastor, you’re trying to navigate those opinions and also trying to hear in your heart, okay, how do we do what our governor is asking us to do but still be faithful to, what does it look like to be a church," Daugherty said.
The church is considering different options to take to protect their congregation.
It could mean additional services, letting fewer people attend the sermon, and leaving several rows empty.
“Is that for one month, is that for two months? And really, we don’t have the answer to that," said Daniel Henshaw, Director of Operations at Victory Church. "We just know we’re going to be phasing into all of those things. Our kid’s facility as well. And some of it may just become normal practice for a long period of time.”
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.