Triangle mega-church opts to hold off in-person services until vaccine developed, metrics decline

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently linked religious gatherings to contributing to more COVID-19 cluster-associated cases.

One mega-church in the Triangle, World Overcomers Christian Church, is deciding to keep their doors closed and only do virtual services for the time being.

“Church for us is just growing. We’ve never had this many people watching,” said Senior Pastor Andy Thompson with World Overcomers. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having church the way I did before.”

Thompson used to do up to four services a day in front of thousands of people in Durham and Raleigh. With COVID-19, he made the switch to completely online. He’s waiting for there to be a vaccine and no more spikes in cases before reopening for in-person services.

“When our people are able to come back together, they’re going to want to greet one another and hug one another, and in my estimation, the risks are too great,” said Thompson. “We have to figure out ways to minister to people beyond just them risking contact in the middle of a pandemic.”

Plenty of churches have opened their doors to in-person worshipping in the Triangle.

“We sit in every other seat and we also encourage our folks to social distance. We’re requiring mask on all of our ushers and our greeters,” said Pastor Tim Rabon at Beacon Baptist Church.

A recent state report shows religious gatherings are the third-most-common source of community spread.

“Every time they tell me they’re having meetings, I always say, ‘You might want to rethink that. Do you really have to have meetings to minister the gospel of Christ?'” Thompson said.

Thompson said it’s a new world everyone has to adapt to.

“Figure out a way to be effective when it comes to the future,” Thompson said.

The state has provided guidelines for churches that reopen.

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