With government and public concern high over the COVID-19 coronavirus, a number of South Snohomish County churches have taken notice and are making — or are being forced to make — concessions regarding how they conduct Sunday morning services and other various gatherings.
One Lynnwood church has even shut down its entire campus, not just on Sunday but throughout the week.
Alderwood Community Church in Lynnwood has decided to pull the plug on all on-campus activities. “The Elder Board, in partnership with the Pastoral staff of Alderwood Community Church, has voted to suspend all gatherings on the ACC campus until further notice,” read a statement posted on the church’s website.
Alderwood Community Church normally conducts three Sunday morning worship services in addition to numerous meetings, studies and ministries throughout the week.
A pair of Edmonds churches — Edmonds United Methodist Church and North Sound Church — have decided to forego in-person worship services on Sunday, March 8, and will instead conduct services streamed live on their websites.
North Sound Church also announced, via its webpage, the “cancellation of our Women’s Bible Study, children’s and youth gatherings.”
“We hope to return to normal scheduling as soon as it is safe,” the church’s website stated.
While almost all churches in the area are continuing with their Sunday morning services, many are instituting some changes. Communion will be noticably different during masses held at St. Pius X Church in Mountlake Terrace, Holy Rosary Parish in Edmonds and St. Thomas More in Lynnwood, with no wine or juice served, just communion bread that will be placed in parishioners’ hands, not their mouths.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood will also only offer bread and no juice or wine during its Sunday morning communion on March 8.
The greeters at Edgewood Baptist Church in Edmonds will be following new guidelines, said the church’s senior pastor, Kevin Hollinger. “Our greeters won’t be shaking your hand; they’ll be welcoming you with a big smile,” he stated in a video posted on the church’s Facebook page. “We’re encouraging people not to hug, not to shake hands during this season.”
Renew Covenant Church in Lynnwood announced on its website that it will make available non-latex gloves during their Sunday morning service for anyone who may want them.
The offering will be collected differently in at least two area churches on Sunday. Instead of passing collection plates during the service, Maple Park Church in Lynnwood will have offering plates at the door when church members and attendees arrive on Sunday morning; Terrace Foursquare Church in Mountlake Terrace will have ushers holding collection baskets as attendees leave at the end of the service there.
Terrace Foursquare is also faced with another dilemma related to the area’s coronavirus concerns. The church has been meeting at Mountlake Terrace Elementary School since its inception in June 2019 but will not be allowed access to the building for five weeks beginning on March 15. That’s because the Edmonds School District is suspending use of its facilities by community groups from Monday, March 9 through Sunday, April 12 in an effort to keep schools free of the virus.
The church’s prohibition from Mountlake Terrace Elementary includes Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 12.
Terrace Foursquare Church lead pastor Trevor Loya shared the news of the Edmonds School District pronouncement to church members and attenders in an email letter. “I understand and respect their decision,” Loya stated.
“Also, I wanted to reach out to ask if anyone has connections to a space that we would be able to use on Sundays, whether that would be a church, community center or any place for a gathering,” the email letter continued. “I am not 100% sure what we plan to do, but would love to pray through any option we may have in front of us.”
–By Doug Petrowski