By Charles Whisnand
Despite state guidelines that don't permit churches to hold indoor services, at least one local church stated it made the difficult decision it could no longer abide by those guidelines.
Faith Baptist Church will again begin to hold in-person services beginning this Sunday, August 9. The church will hold in-person services on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and will also hold services on Wednesday nights.
The church's Deacons board went ahead with the decision to hold the services. “I want to say this wasn't an easy decision by the Deacons,” said Alex Larson, who's a member of the church's Deacon board. “We really thought about it.”
Under state guidelines, indoor church services aren't allowed in counties on the state watch list, including Tulare County. But Larson said the Deacons decision isn't an act of defiance against the state but based on the factors it considered when trying to determine if the church should re-open. “First of all this is not defiance,” Larson said.
Larson added he believes the conditions the church will hold services will be safe. He added the church will take all the necessary precautions to make sure services are as safe as possible.
He added the church will be prepared to hold a safe service. “Our church is cleaned and disinfected frequently,” Larson said.
Larson noted the church will be well within previous guidelines when churches were allowed to open before the latest shutdown. Under those guidelines, churches could hold services at 25 percent of their capacity.
Faith Baptist's capacity of its sanctuary is 312 and Larson said attendance at Sunday morning services could be about 60, so the church is well under that 25 percent threshold.
Larson noted when Newsom issued his latest guidelines, he originally set those guidelines for three weeks and the church has abided by those guidelines, not meeting during that time.
Larson said church members were polled and the results were mixed as far as if services should be resumed. “Our church doesn't all think the same which is fine,” Larson said.
He added those members who choose not to come to service, the church will understand that decision. “There's no condemnation for those who don't come to church,” Larson said.
Larson added he also believes those who choose not to come to church won't show any condemnation to those who do attend.
On a personal note, Larson stated he does have a problem with Governor Newsom's guideline which effectively bans singing in churches, which has been in effect for sometime now. “When the Governor banned singing in church, personally he lost my support,” he said.
OUTDOOR SERVICE AT FIRST CONGREGATIONAL
While Strathmore's Faith Baptist Church will resume indoor services, another local church will hold an outdoor service on Sunday.
First Congregational Church will hold an outdoor service at 9 a.m. Sunday, August 9. Those attending will enter through the 4th Street gate. The service will be held in the patio area outside the social hall. The church also state those can participate in the service from home if they choose.
Temperatures will be taken for those who enter and wearing of face coverings and social distancing will be required. There will also be no singing.