North Alabama United Methodist leaders refraining from in-person worship until June 1

North Alabama United Methodist leaders refraining from in-person worship until June 1

FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Houses of worship can return to normal services this week under Gov. Kay Ivey’s relaxed pandemic restrictions.

That doesn’t mean, however, all churches plan to pack the pews at the start.

A Shoals pastor says its better to be safe than sorry.

The pews sit empty inside First United Methodist Church on Seminary Street in Florence. There is no one playing piano. And the sanctuary is silent. Dale Cohen is senior pastor. He says it could be some time yet before in-person worship picks back up.

“The north Alabama conference bishop, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, has asked churches within our conference not to worship before June first,' said Cohen.

Cohen says his congregation is made up of older members. He doesn’t want to put any one in harms way by reopening the building too soon.

“We prefer to wait until there is a greater sense of security so that we don’t endanger anybody. It would be devastating to me if anyone worshiped with us and contracted the virus and something bad happened to them," said Cohen.

While the church building is closed, Cohen says staff has been cleaning and sanitizing. They’re also changing up their usual worship practice for members safety.

“When we do gather again we will print the words to our hymnals in the bulletin so people don’t have to handle those. We’ll take up offering differently. We have purchased individual communion servings that are both juice and bread. We’ll observe communion that way for at least a while.”

Common-sense consideration Cohen says will keep his congregants safe.

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