SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Go to church, or stay home? That may be a question you’re asking yourself with news of the coronavirus pandemic. Many local churches are releasing information for their congregations to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Many churches try to make everyone feel welcome, but right now there’s something that is unwelcome in sanctuaries: coronavirus.
Brady: “Is it safe to go to church?”
Reverend Scott Sailer: “Yeah, I believe it’s safe to go to church.”
Sailer, president of the South Dakota District’s Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, is keeping the 28,000 members in the state up-to-date on best practices to prevent people from getting sick.
“We want to continue to encourage our congregations, our pastors to use wisdom as they would gather the people together,” Sailer said.
Pastor Jeff Hayes with Faith Temple Church says it’s ok to still go to church, but recommends using common sense just as you would for any other illness.
“If you’re sick and you’re not feeling well, you should stay home and not infect the rest of the folks here,” Hayes said.
Many churches are also recommending tweaking the way we greet each other during services. If you’re not comfortable shaking hands with someone, there are other ways to say hello.
“Usually we use the knuckles or some times we give people an elbow. We just touch elbows,” Hayes said.
“I know some of our pastors are maybe omitting some of the handshakes and so forth and all together or perhaps recommending things like fist bumps or whatever else. Wave to the people sitting near you,” Sailer said.
Even though, right now, it may be best to keep your hands to yourself. Both Hayes and Sailer say don’t let fear of the coronavirus stop you from extending the hand of friendship to others.
“We want people to be welcoming and certainly maintain their friendships and be warm in their greeting of those who are visiting our congregations, but again, to take some precautions at this time,” Sailer said.
Many churches will livestream their services on their websites or on social media. Some air them on TV.
Those are options for people who make the choice to stay home. Some churches are also tweaking how they give communion. Faith Baptist is serving it in factory-sealed, single-serve containers.
We also contacted the SIoux Falls Catholic Diocese and ELCA Lutheran Church. Though some organizations have put out information for congregation members, representatives declined on-camera interviews on Wednesday.