Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, most churches have opted for on-line services and have halted congregational gatherings. Some have begun having drive-in services, and after a federal judge issued a ruling last Saturday (May 16th), some resumed congregational services.
Judge James Dever III said in his ruling "the Governor appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors (such as shopping or working or selling merchandise) but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors." The ruling came after two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filed a lawsuit against the governor.
Cooper said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling blocking his restrictions on indoor religious services, and some churches returned to indoor worship last Sunday.
On Friday (May 22nd) President Donald Trump announced that his administration considers places of worship "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic, threatening to "override" governors if their states did not follow the new federal recommendations.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics essential, but have left out churches and houses of worship. It's not right. So I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential," Trump said. "Governors must allow churches and places of worship to open right now. If there's any question, they're going to have to call me, but they're not going to be successful in that call."
Later in that briefing, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that reopening was at the discretion of governors and religious leaders.
While some churches began indoor gatherings last Sunday and others will this week, most churches appear more likely to continue either on-line services or drive-in services.
United Methodist churches will continue on-line. The bishop for Western North Carolina issued an advisory earlier in the week: The Bishop and Cabinet continue to recommend strongly that you follow the Conference, CDC, and state guidelines for the slow re-opening of churches. Jesus calls us to protect the most vulnerable among us. Our continuation with virtual, drive-in, or outdoor worship at least through June 30 is a way to love one another by not putting others at risk. Please remember that persons can transmit this virus without showing signs of being infected.
Emmanuel Lutheran Church posted on its Facebook page: In our desire to reopen, we must weigh the best scientific evidence and only proceed with the utmost caution. The cost isn't in numbers, it is the lives of those we love and are charged to care for as Christ himself.
Daniels Lutheran Church posted: We will continue our regular pandemic schedule of 9 AM parking lot church and 11 AM live stream service. If you are attending parking lot church please remain in your vehicle and know that bathrooms are not available. If you wish to participate in Holy Communion, please bring your own bread and wine or grape juice. You have the option to tune your radios to FM channel 87.9 to listen from the speakers of your car, while parked in the parking lot.
First Baptist Church of Lincolnton won't reopen this Sunday (May 24th) but will next Sunday (May 31st). The on-line service will continue this week.
Alexis Baptist Church will continue to have its drive-in service this Sunday.
Boger City Baptist Church will continue to provide an on-line service until reopening for congregational worship on May 31st. The church will be having two services until capacity limitations are removed.
If you would like to attend an indoor service, health officials suggest you still try to avoid close contact with others--keeping social distancing from others as much as possible.
Dallas Baptist Church, which will have indoor services Sunday, posted on Facebook a link to a YouTube video of "a walk through of Dallas Baptist Church's setup for the return to our building on Sunday, May 24th."
The service will still be live streamed for those not able to attend (sick, high risk, working, or uncomfortable venturing out). The church will also have Sunday school (socially distanced) at 9:30 AM. The worship service begins at 10:30. Not only members there but other churches may be interested in that video when they reopen to inside services: https://youtu.be/KjHAGMYzkz8