Southeast FL pastors consider steps to reopen churches

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MIAMI— As Florida enters phase one of the plan ordered by Governor Ron DeSantis to reopen the state after the COVID-19 response, Florida Baptists are looking for direction on when to return to corporate worship and other in-person church services.

Pastors in the Southeast region of the state gathered over video conferencing calls Tuesday, April 28, to receive guidance from Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, on planning and implementing future steps.

The video calls drew 55 Hispanic pastors to one presented in Spanish and another 118 English-speaking pastors to a second call.

Green outlined two considerations for churches planning and preparing to reopen their churches to members and guests.

First, he suggested that pastors gather a group from the congregation to develop guidelines for opening the church for public services.

“If you have medical folks in your church, call them into the conversation,” Green said. “Send out those guidelines to your people and it will communicate to them you are serious about returning and about their health. That will make them feel a little more comfortable about going back.”

Second, he urged pastors to be strategic about cleaning, especially considering churches may need to host multiple services to accommodate worshippers while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

“I know our churches are clean, but this is a whole other level of clean, he said. “If we’re going to have multiple services, then we need to have a cleaning that takes place between services. You must have a team of people and products to do that.

“Get ready to have all those things happen and start to think strategically,” he said.

Green warned the pastors about realities churches may face when members begin to return, including broken marriages and fractured relationships.

“People have lost their jobs, and some have lost their businesses…we will have to deal with a lot of family issues coming out of this. Much of this will be placed on the steps of the church and we have to ready for that.”

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