A New California: Virtual church services may become the new normal

Houses of worship got the greenlight from Governor Gavin Newsom Monday.

The Governor released guidelines that would give churches the ability to reopen.

Even so, not all are eager to get back to normal.

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In fact, online services could become the new normal.“We believe churches never really closed because the work of our church is more than what happens in our building. It's what happens in all the lives of our people as we live our faith in our community and that has not been stopped by the limitation on our gathering in person and physical space,” says Reverend Molly Vetter, Senior Pastor at Westwood United Methodist Church.

Reverend Vetter says, since the doors closed in March, Westwood United Methodist Church has held online worship each Sunday at 10 am.  

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One of the silver linings is online participation from the church’s approximate 400 members is actually higher than what they’d see on an average Sunday, says Reverend Vetter

Also, the online space has given the church the ability to connect with people who have moved away; it has also given distant family members the opportunity to participate together in their online worship.

Members can log onto the church website or Facebook page.

Reverend Vetter says even if the LA County Public Health Department signs off on the Governor’s guidelines, which has to happen before church doors can reopen, she’s not comfortable doing so because a number of her members fall into the high-risk category for COVID-19.

So, when will Reverend Vetter feel comfortable reopening? 

“I think that remains to be determined. Our church council had a good conversation about our guiding values and it's certainly more important to us to participate in work that helps protect the health of all and continue to find creative ways to be the church.”