Like many organizations, churches have had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
California guidelines stated that places of worship weren’t able to host indoor services if the counties they were in were in the most-restrictive purple tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening framework.
But the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled those restrictions were in violation of the First Amendment. California Gov. Gavin Newsom then released new guidelines saying places of worship could host indoor services at 25 percent capacity – along with other guidelines in place – while counties are in the purple or red tiers.
Here’s a look at what a few local churches are doing:
St. Isidore Catholic Church in Yuba City
Helen Gomez, parish manager at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Yuba City, said they are hosting daily Mass indoors with the guidelines in place – such as being at 25 percent capacity, having attendees wear masks, etc. She said they also have registration to secure a seat for indoor services.
The church’s Sunday services are still hosted outdoors so more people can attend while still following guidelines.
“We want to service our parishioners and our community, we want to give them what they need,” Gomez said. “... It just takes a lot of planning because we are a very large parish.”
She said they have also added service times and continue to offer bilingual services.
For more information, visit www.stisidore-yubacity.org.
Cornerstone Church of Yuba City
Jason Poling, pastor of Cornerstone Church of Yuba City, said they are hosting in-person services, which follow protocols such as social distancing, temperature taking and encouraging people to wear masks, but they are also continuing to host virtual services.
“We’re doing multiple options because it’s so complex, with the different scenarios for each individual person,” Poling said.
He said they have been hosting virtual services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Services can be streamed through a variety of ways, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and even virtual reality.
For more information, visit www.cornerstoneyc.com.
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Yuba City
Susie Cauchi, church administrator at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Yuba City, said they are currently doing Sunday worship via Zoom and on Facebook concurrently.
“We have a technical and worship team working on a more seamless online church experience (that will be) in conjunction with in-person church,” Cauchi said.
She said when the county was in the less-restrictive red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening framework last year they were hosting in-person church services based on the reopening guidelines, but they had experienced some technical difficulties so the team is working to improve it and once that is complete, she said, they will reopen for indoor, in-person worship.
“We’re just really trying to work together as a church family and doing what’s best for everybody,” Cauchi said.
She said their musicians sometimes do prerecorded music that is played during the virtual services and the church hosts group discussions at the end for attendees, along with other interactive experiences.
“What we try to do is take our in-person church experience and make it as close to what we can do in an online (format),” Cauchi said.
When they return to in-person services, Cauchi said they will be following guidelines such as being at 25 percent capacity, social distancing, having people wear facial coverings, preregistration and more.
“I would like to say, as church administrator, how incredibly blessed our church is with the volunteer work keeping it running during the pandemic and always,” Cauchi said. “... Our interim pastor Kevin Buchanan invites people to come worship with us.”
For more information, visit www.standrewpcusa.org.
First United Methodist Church in Marysville
Glen Raley, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Marysville, said their bishop sent word that they shouldn’t reopen yet for indoor worship “simply because we’re concerned about the life and health of our folks.”
Raley said the local church is hosting services online.
He said when Yuba County had moved to the red tier briefly last year, they had reopened with 25 percent capacity and abided by the other protocols in place – such as having hand sanitizer, not singing and having attendees wear masks.
“With the vaccines coming out now, the hope (is) that things are going to start turning around,” Raley said.
He said the church family has been sent a link to the online services and they’re also available on Facebook – Marysville, CA FUMC.