If you were planning on attending a worship service this weekend, you may want to double-check whether it’s happening. Numerous churches and temples have cancelled services but for those going ahead, there will be noticeable changes.
At Nanaimo First Baptist Church, this Sunday, no one will be handing out bulletins, the offering bags will not be passed around and you’ll find more reminders to wash your hands.
“Certainly, there will be more sanitizers around,” said Rob Daley, the church’s Senior Pastor.
“We’re bringing in more and we’re encouraging people to use them and wash their hands and to avoid hugging and shaking hands that sort of thing.”
BC’s medical health officer directed changes at worship services in a conference call with religious leaders Wednesday.
Those changes may look a little different depending on church practices. Communion distribution changed last week at Catholic Churches.
“Don’t shake hands, the sign of peace, just bow politely to people. We’re not distributing the precious blood in the cup, receive communion only on the hand, not on the tongue,” said Gary Gordon, Bishop of the Catholic Church Diocese of Victoria.
This week churches holding services will also have to ensure there aren’t more than 250 people and people sit one to two meters apart.
But based on a lower attendance at services last week having enough space is not expected to be an issue.
Sikh temples and yet other churches have announced they are cancelling services.
“Close to 200 people, that includes some retired folks. We thought it would be wise for us to forgo our regular meetings just to keep people safe,” said Travis Barbour, a pastor at Neighbourhood Church.
But church leaders believe it’s as important now as ever to practice faith.
“We think it’s important for people to gather and to pray because we think it’s going to give people a greater sense of calm, a greater sense of connectedness and kind of confidence that we don’t need to panic,” said Gordon.
Many churches also plan to live stream services on social media for those who are sick, quarantined or would just prefer to watch safely from home.