Coronavirus in Tennessee: Churches take precautions amid concerns


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Church leaders are looking to take extra precautions for the health of their congregations as Thursday saw a coronavirus case confirmed in Knox County.

The Knox County Health Department is advising people to take some extra precautions by limiting personal contact at big events or large gatherings.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel heard from Knoxville church leaders, learning what steps they are taking to keep congregations healthy and safe.

MORE: Coronavirus Information Page | WATE

“We’ve already started with the way we handshake. We don’t handshake, we do forearms, and we kind of make a cross actually. And when we give Holy Communion, which is very important here, we hand sanitize very visibly so everybody knows we’re doing it,” said Grace Lutheran Church’s pastor Rich Elseroad.

City Church in Knoxville is also taking extra precautions. Hand sanitizer sits at the welcome table and in the lobby, and they’ve made changes to some service practices.

“Usually with communion, everybody will go by and take a piece of bread and they’ll dip it in the juice and go by, and so obviously that’s not a smart thing to do when there’s contagious illnesses going around. So we just said we’re going to temporarily suspend communion until this thing gets figured out, just so we don’t unnecessarily put people at risk,” said pastor Kent Bateman.

Both pastors urged people to stay home if they’re feeling sick, and both, at the moment, are planning on continuing services.

“If we need to suspend services temporarily, we may put teachings or sermons online or do music online, or whatever we need to do to kind of get through the thick of it, but as of right now we’re planning on having services as normal,” Bateman said.

“We are not going to suspend worship services. We feel that we should not do that, but we’re going to leave it up to the members of the church and visitors who might not want to be here, we can understand that,” said Elseroad.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Coronavirus COVID-19 videos

Biden slams Trump for 'knowingly' lying on COVID

McEnany: Trump 'never lied' to the public on COVID

Trump bemoans virus restrictions in North Carolina

University of Tennessee relocating Massey Hall residents to make room for COVID-19 self-isolation cases

Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County reports 100 new cases, 157 new inactive cases

Knox County Health Dept. says plan in place for vaccine distribution

UT Chancellor: Some dodging COVID-19 precautions

Two Tennessee women participating in a COVID-19 vaccine study

Tennessee teachers asking for more safety measures

State launching COVID-19 schools dashboard

Knox County Health Dept.: Numbers reflect new timeframe for inactive cases

Clinton High School cancels next 2 weeks of games due to virus

UT chancellor: Fraternities trying to avoid COVID-19 precautions

Trending Stories

WATE 6 Storm Weather School

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter