By Lonnie Wilkey
While many churches hold both traditional and contemporary worship services, Oak Valley decided to hold mask or no mask (optional) services, said pastor Jerry Winfield.
He noted that when the church returned to live services in June, there were a significant number of people who felt more comfortable wearing masks.
In fact, when they returned, masks were optional at both services. After a substantial number of people expressed concerns about being around people without masks, Winfield said the decision was made to have a mask service and a mask optional service, during which few, if any, members wear a mask.
Winfield noted the first service is attended by primarily senior adults. The optional service is a “good mix” of people of all ages, Winfield said. He noted the first service runs about 50-60 people weekly while the optional service attracts between 70-80. Prior to COVID-19, the church averaged about 250 people in both services, Winfield said.
Social distancing is observed during both services with each service at no more than 50 percent capacity.
In addition, the church continues to livestream the second service. He said about 50 people watch that live each week while as many as 100 others watch it sometime during the week.
The church has not returned to live Sunday School classes for adults. They are still done by Zoom but the church is holding Sunday School for children outside while their parents are in worship service, the pastor added.
Once the church provided the mask service, there basically have been no complaints, Winfield noted. “Our people have been very receptive,” he said.
He also noted the church has appreciated the extra effort to make everyone comfortable in the midst of a pandemic. “Our options provide something for everyone — those who want to wear a mask, those who don’t and those who can still watch via live-stream because they are not ready to return to live services because of underlying health issues.”
And, since returning, there have been no reports of anyone who has tested positive for COVID and very few have been tested, Winfield observed. “We are hanging in there.” B&R