Churches begin canceling services in response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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Local churches are canceling services after the most recent guidance from health officials to curtail the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi announced the cancellation of all parish and school services other than takeout food for the entire Archdiocese of Mobile, which encompasses the southern half of Alabama.

This includes services at St. Martin of Tours. There will be no mass, no adoration on Wednesdays and no Stations of the Cross on Fridays. However, the Church will be open for private devotion.

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Fr. Chris Boutin will hear confessions on Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday mass will be livestreamed via Facebook and Youtube.

“May we all grow closer to the Triune God, our families, and those most in need in other ways during these difficult times,” Boutin said. “I ask our parishioners to pray daily for those suffering from illnesses, and those working so diligently around the clock to treat them. Through the intercession of Our Lady, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Martin of Tours, we shall overcome.”

The Alabama-West Florida Conference United Methodist Church has also canceled all in-person services, which includes the First United Methodist Church of Troy and Brundidge United Methodist Church among others.

Hephzibah Baptist Church has canceled all services, instead streaming sermons online. The church has also canceled its mission trip to Belize.

“As Seattle’s mayor responded (to critics) when he closed all meeting places (during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic), ‘Any religion which won’t keep for two weeks is not worth having,’” said HBC staff in a statement on Tuesday. “We cling to the cross of Jesus and look to Him for our hope in the midst of this storm.”

Bush Baptist Church announced on Tuesday afternoon they were canceling all church activities effective immediately.

After holding a worship service only last Sunday, pastor Dustin Coleman and staff elected to cancel all activities for the next three Sundays.

Bush is however planning to live stream a shortened service beginning on Sunday. A service that will include a few worship song and a sermon given by Pastor Coleman.

The stream can be found on the church’s website, Facebook page and YouTube.

Troy Church was one of the local churches that had already made the switch to livestreaming on Sunday and the church will continue to stream services.

The Vine Church also began streaming online services on Sunday, as their church services are normally held in the Troy Recreation Center, which has closed until April 6.

“We are in an unprecedented time, and in this time, we encourage you to not think of the ways you aren’t able to come to church but think of the ways you can be the church,” Vine church leaders released in a statement to members. “Over the coming days, we will be providing additional opportunities and resources for you to be the hands and feet of Jesus here and now to the community around you.”

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, which includes St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, announced that no in-person services will be held until Easter Sunday on April 12.

Northside Baptist Church will hold only their Sunday morning worship service until further notice.

More churches are also announcing plans to cancel and The Messenger will be updating listings online as new cancellations are announced.

Editor’s note: Other churches not included in this article may also have announced plans to cancel services or have canceled since the publication time of this article. Please check with individual churches to ensure the status of services.