Churches migrate online amid Coronavirus restrictions on large groups

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Thousands of people usually go to church on Sunday. This is the first weekend where new Coronavirus health guidelines impact just about every denomination in the region. A lot of people “stayed home” and used the internet to worship. The medium is changing but God’s message isn’t going away.

The praise band at Pathway Church in Mobile sings their hearts out to a mostly empty hall. Every word sent from on stage is fed to an online audience. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t matter how many people are inside because a church is not a building, it’s a people.

“Circumstances change, you know just like the situation we’re in now the church is not in the building but the church is everywhere they’re in homes and all over, the church is people when they come together and unite in a common cause,” said Andric Daugherty with Pathway Church. Apart from the audience, Pathway’s service was a lot like a typical Sunday. Other churches had different approaches. Father Frank Busbey at Holy Spirit Anglican Church uses little more than a tablet computer and a podium. While his seats are empty, his service is full of changes.

“Usually we’d have several people involved, this morning we’d have more music this morning simple basic readings and message from the Bible,” said Father Busbey. Tele-church isn’t perfect. Loxley Church was one place affected by a platform outage from Church-online.

“So many people tried to go to church, that they broke the internet so that’s awesome, can we just talk about how awesome it was that so many people wanted to go to church online today,” said Chelsea Pickett Middleton with Loxley Church as she enthusiastically explained the technical difficulties during a Facebook Live post later in the morning. Empty parking lots and empty seats are the new normal for a while but the message is getting to the faithful.

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