On the first weekend of San Diego being back in the most restrictive purple tier, churches across the county are worshipping outdoors.
Under current health guidelines, all houses of worship are required to stop indoor service, forcing congregations to adapt to the restrictions.
“It doesn’t look the same, it doesn’t feel the same, but it’s the same God and people are coming to worship together,” said Pastor Travis Gibson of The Rock Church.
The Rock began their outdoor services a few weeks ago and have had the fortune of good weather. Before the pandemic, The Rock could host thousands of people in their large auditorium. Now the crowd is smaller and prayer happens in a large field in Liberty Station.
As worshipers listen, Gibson continues to share his message of faith, eve with the sound of large planes overhead.
“Inside the building you can control the temperature, you can control the noise, you can control the lights. We don’t have those. What we do have is the spirit of God that lives inside of us so that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Gibson.
Before entering the outdoor church venue, The Rock members get a health screening and hand sanitizer. There are also extra masks available for people who don’t have one.
“Everyone is feeling safe, everyone is social distancing,” said Carlos Salazar, a Rock Church member.
In Barrio Logan, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church doesn’t have as much space, but they’re doing the best they can with their outdoor patio, hosting dozens of parishioners on Sunday morning. The Catholic parish known for tradition, has been forced to change their rituals for the health of the community.
“Communion is only received by the hand and it’s received with the mask still on. Then the person moves to the side and receives communion,” said Father Marty Silva, Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Parishioners must leave after receiving communion.
Father Mary understands his community is facing health and emotional issues and wants the church to remain a place where people can go for help safely.
While San Diego’s weather is helpful during outdoor services, the are concerns about the coming winter.
“I just don’t see the elderly coming, but we have to do what we have to do. Our coats, our scarves, and when it starts raining, our umbrellas,” said Berta Olivo, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Rock Church still offers online services. Our Lady of Guadalupe is also posing their services on Facebook, for people who are sick, or if there is bad weather.