Places of Worship Adapt to New Coronavirus Normal

While some churches, temples and politicians have demanded restrictions loosen for places of worship, one Carlsbad church says they are in no rush to go back to normal

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After San Diego County places of worship once again were told by Governor Gavin Newsom to stop indoor services and activities, churches, temples, and more are scrambling to figure out their next move.

“Today was the day we had scheduled for 12-steps groups [to return inside], July 15,” explained Carlsbad Pastor Madison Shockley of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ.

“We had scheduled our preschool for August 1, and we were anticipating in-person worship for September 1. All of that’s changed,” Shockley told NBC 7.

But while some San Diego pastors, rabbis and politicians have demanded the governor ease restrictions from the initial lockdown, Shockley is OK keeping his doors closed as long as cases are up.

“Even when you say we’re going to have 25% capacity, you can’t control who shows up,” he explained.

“Whenever your church is open, how do you account for visitors?”

So like religious organizations across the county, Shockley has focused on making his livestreams as smooth as possible.

The main hall of his church has row after row of empty pews, but also multiple tripods for cameras and iPads ready for Zooms and Facebook Lives.

The result is a spiritual studio for virtual sermons, book clubs, and more.

“We are able to carry on the word as it is. The word still gets out,” said Shockley.

After constantly pouring over articles on the coronavirus and its impact on churches and large groups of people, Shockley said he worries he won’t have a full church again for at least two years.

But as long as his congregants are safe, he’s not worried.

“Our divine purpose now is to help people stay alive, help people stay healthy and help people live a life of service to others and to God,” he explained.

And we can still do that without gathering,” he said with a smile.

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