Liberty Hill area churches adjust to new gathering restrictions

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By Anthony Flores

In response to the new limits to gatherings and the need for social distancing brought on by COVID-19, area churches are adjusting to a new approach to worship.

Still seeking to provide sanctuary to those in need, churches are reaching out to members through the Internet.

“Church is a community, so we spend a lot of time doing life together,” said Pastor Andrew Fortner of One Chapel in Liberty Hill. “We do things in small groups but always meet together on Sunday in a large group. Everything else we do is through smaller groups that do Bible studies or pray together. None of that has changed, we have to think of creative ways to do it.”

Fortner says that while they won’t be able to hold a traditional Sunday service, the opportunity to worship together remains.

“We still have our Sunday morning worship service, we’re just doing it online,” said Fortner. “We have live service at 9 a.m. on Sunday at OneChapel.com, or people can watch on Facebook.”

Making the best of the situation, Fortner sees some fun in using Facebook as a way to reach out to members of the congregation.

“It’s kind of cool to do it there,” said Fortner. “You can comment on the service, and that’s fun for a lot of people. You connect with people as they experience the service themselves.”

Taking advantage of streaming and using Facebook Live, One Chapel is offering more than just Sunday service.

“What we did last week is we had a panel of our different campus pastors up there asking questions about what was going on and how people felt,” said Fortner.

Most of the small groups that meet during the week will also meet virtually.

“Most of them are utilizing Zoom for video conferencing, and that’s how they’re going to conduct their meetings so they can all see each other,” he said.

Pastor Derrick Norris of Andice Baptist Church is also holding online services.

“We’re trying to keep all of our members safe, so all of our services are online,” said Norris. “Our Sunday School classes are online, too.

“I’m doing a weekly prayer time. I’m doing a weekly update online where we video chat with the folks,” Norris added. “We’re still going to do Good Friday, but everything is going to happen from our sanctuary.”

The church also plans to provide meal pick-ups for those who need a warm meal.

“We’re going to try and serve meals on Wednesday nights from 5-7 p.m.,” said Norris. “It’ll be like a drive-thru where people come by, and one person will be taking orders. We’re going to call it a meal and a prayer. It’s something we want to do to help the people in the community.”

Norris sees a need to be active in helping the community more than ever with the closing of many businesses.

“So many things are shutting down, and there’s going to be a lot of people that are hurting. If we can help them, we want to be able to do that,” Norris said.

In a post on The Independent’s Facebook page, churches shared how they’re continuing to worship. The majority of churches are going the route of streaming services.

The main thing pastors want their congregations to know is that they still have a way to worship in these trying times.

“Church is not canceled, it is never canceled,” said Fortner. “We have to adjust in different ways to make it happen. We’re going to roll with it. One of the interesting blessings that I think is going to come out of this is that I think it’s going to make people realize how connected we are. When it’s taken away, we need it.”

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