Oklahoma Churches Adapt To Balance Community, Safety Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Sunday, November 29th 2020, 9:22 pm
By: Jordan Tidwell

Oklahoma churches are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some returning to virtual services after the recent rise in cases. 

Worship services may now look different for some people, from wearing a mask to attending a virtual service.

"Where our auditorium would normally seat 1,400 or more, we're seating now 400 to 500," said Will Spoon, Hospitality Minister at The Park Church of Christ. 

Spoon said just recently the church decided to return to virtual only services. He said the church has a medical advisory board that is helping them make decisions regarding the pandemic.

"It's made up of physicians that are members here, and they have been advising us on just best practices to keep our members safe," Spoon said. 

He said the biggest challenge they are facing is staying connected to their members. They've done drive-in services for both the children's ministry and senior adults

"To maintain the best possible physical safety and still keep our spiritual safety at an optimum," Spoon said. 

At First United Pentecostal Church, Pastor Gregg Joki said one way they've adapted to the pandemic is how they handle community outreach. He said most recently they had to cancel their big Thanksgiving meal and instead deliver packaged food boxes.

"We find it rewarding a so forth to still be active in the community, we love giving back to the community," Joki said. 

Joki said they are also now streaming their services online, something they didn’t do before the pandemic. They've reached people all over the country, but Joki said he is missing seeing members of his congregation who can't come to church right now.

"Those who just feel like it's safer for them to stay home and rightfully so, I support that, but I feel bad for them to not be able to get out and actually come to church," Joke said.

If a church in Tulsa expects an attendance of 150 or more, they do need to submit a safety plan to the Tulsa Health Department.