Jonathan Yarboro

File / The Herald

First Presbyterian Rev. Jonathan Yarboro said his church has no intentions of meeting as a congregation until a later date which has not been determined yet.

As the state lessens restrictions, churches in Wetumpka are taking a cautious approach to allowing their congregations physically return to campuses.

Besides a few exceptions, many churches have decided to hold off on reopening and are taking a wait-and-see approach as the number of positive COVID-19 tests continues to increase.

Unlike restaurants or retail establishments where customer movement can be contained, churches have a variety of issues that have to be considered before reopening.

Grace Baptist Church pastor Justin Teate said the church is taking a multi-tiered approach to welcoming people back to campus.

“We brought back our leadership in for service and all I’ve done is preach,” he said. “They came the past two Sundays and Wednesdays.”

Teate said that first Sunday when church leaders came back they disinfected the church and put together a sanitization and social distancing plan before welcoming back a larger group of church leadership this past Sunday. 

“We brought in our ministry leaders to acclimate them,” he said.

Teate said the total number of people attending services right now is around 20 to 30 people.

June 7 is when Teate said the church plans to open church services to everyone.

“All we will have is a preaching service,” he said. “We are welcoming anyone who wants to come. Our auditorium is big enough to allow social distancing and we have a sanitizing plan in place.” 

The plan includes entering and exiting at one door that will be propped open; one set of restrooms will be open; church staff will wear masks though masks are not required to attend service; gloves and hand sanitizer will be available for use by those attending; and the service will be limited to Teate giving a sermon.

“We have tried to cover all our bases,” he said.

The church will hold services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Mulder Church pastor Matt Mobley said the church will continue services online only through next Sunday then welcome back church members the following Sunday

“Beginning May 31, we will have onsite worship again,” he said. “It will be at 8 a.m. and will be outside. It will be a traditional service.”

Mobley said chairs will be set up 6 feet apart in the parking lot in case people who attend prefer to remain in their vehicles.

“It will be a shorter service,” he said. “People who stay in their cars can listen online if they prefer.”

Mobley said social distancing will be observed and attendees are not required to wear masks.

“That’s where we are starting,” he said. “It’s going to be taking one baby step at a time.”

He said the church has not worked through all the logistics involved in moving services back into the church.

“If people are spread out 6 feet apart in our worship center we will not have room for everybody to come,” Mobley said. “Then children’s space. How do you manage space for children in the nursery and keeping kids separated? It’s going to be a longer time before we have all our services meet in the sanctuary again.”

Mobley said the church will continue to deliver services online and he considers that is a better option for Mulder Church right now.

“That’s going to be a gauge,” he said. “Is what we are able to do online better than what we can do on site right now? I think the answer to that is yes.”

Mobley said only time will tell when the church will begin the process of moving inside.

“We do not have an answer as to when we will move back in,” he said. “I’d say we are looking further past June before we get back in the building.”

First Presbyterian Wetumpka pastor Jonathan Yarboro said the church is staying with plans the church decided on in April. 

“We decided back in April to forgo any in-person services until the end of May,” he said. “We are meeting soon to talk about plans for June.”

Yarboro said for now the church is continuing to broadcast devotional messages and Sunday videos via its Facebook page.