Church

Public unease with opening the economy in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is readily seen in the number of places that could be open but aren’t.

Especially churches.

The Purcell Register reached out last week to area churches asking about their reopening plans.

We couldn’t find a single house of worship willing to take advantage of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s OK to open their doors on May 1.

Emmanuel Baptist Church in Purcell posted this notice on social media: “After being notified of an increase of COVID-19 cases in our community, EBC has decided to delay our in-person gathering  previously planned for Sunday, May 3. We will send updates via Facebook, our weekly newsletter and small groups as our plans are able to change.

“We do look forward to returning together soon!”

At Purcell’s First Baptist Church, the Rev. Brett Selby informed the congregation of a plan to open the church May 17 for a single worship service at 10:15 a.m.

In an address to the congregation on Facebook, Selby called the reopening a process, not an event. The church will have hand sanitizer and masks available.

Most importantly, he stressed, there will be “no judgment” if someone isn’t comfortable coming back into the church.

Selby is the transitional pastor.

The sanctuary at First Baptist Church at Washington will remain closed for a time. The church will offer drive-in services at 10 a.m. for the next two Sundays. A decision will be made after that when the church will reopen

A letter from Archbishop of Oklahoma City Paul S. Coakley and Bishop of Tulsa David A. Konderla set out how Masses will resume at the state’s Catholic churches, including Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church here.

“As your shepherds, we have been in contact with state and local government leaders and public health authorities to assess when and how we could begin the process of offering public Mass and ... resuming the normal sacramental life of the Church,” they wrote.

A joint task force made up of priests and laity will consult with medical professionals and a “leading infectious disease specialist” to arrive at a time line by May 6, setting out detailed procedures and precautions for parishes.

Sunray Baptist Church will reopen May 10 with only a worship service at 10:50 a.m.

Union Hill Baptist Church is holding parking lot services which are broadcast over the radio.

It is a week by week decision, a church spokeswoman said.

“We haven’t made a decision yet when we will reopen the sanctuary,” she added.

Johnson Road Baptist Church plans on reopening on Mother’s Day, May 10.

That’s the same date tentatively chosen to reopen Grace Chapel in Lexington.

“That’s our plan,” said the Rev. Charles Barton, pastor. “It’s not guaranteed. We’re playing it by ear.”

Landmark Church will continue drive-in services through next Sunday and plans to reopen May 17.

Memorial Assembly of God, will tentatively reopen June 7.

For United Methodist congregations, it’s a waiting game.

“We haven’t been told by our bishop yet when we can reopen,” the Rev. Don Turner, Wayne United Methodist Church pastor, said. 

Turner anticipates his church, like Trinity United Methodist in Purcell, will remain closed through May and will  reopen after June 1.

Washington United Methodist Church will reopen June 7, holding worship service at an outdoor stage.

The reopening date for Lexington United Methodist Church will be July 5.

A spokeswoman for Trinity United Methodist said more guidance on reopening is expected from Bishop Jimmy Nunn after a May 17 meeting.

“It is our expectation that all United Methodist Churches remain closed and that staff work from home as much as possible,” reads an April 24  letter to United Methodist pastors and congregations. “We do not recommend that any in-person gatherings take place for any reason except for recording worship services and messages of devotion and encouragement and small groups to provide for community needs.”

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