After a spike in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Andy Beshear has announced new guidelines that include requesting that churches stop holding in-person services for the next two Sundays.
Despite the recommendations, there are mixed feelings among congregations in the community.
Second Baptist Church in Hopkinsville made its stance clear via its Facebook page.
“Just a quick note to let you know that we will have our regular services tomorrow and we will be having the youth event Sunday night,” the church wrote in a post Friday. “The Governor made a suggestion that churches close ‘in person worship’ for the next two Sundays, but after looking at Christian County’s numbers and our current safety guidelines, we will remain open.”
The post added that if someone doesn’t feel safe attending the service, they can view the service virtually on channel 14, Facebook or YouTube at 10:15 a.m. Sundays.
Hopkinsville First United Methodist Church also made a post to its Facebook page, announcing they will follow the governor’s request.
“Gov. Beshear and our Bishop, Rev. Leonard Fairley, have requested we offer only online worship services on Sunday, July 26 and Sunday, Aug. 2 to assist in stemming the rising COVID-19 numbers in the Commonwealth. #1stUMCHoptown will gladly oblige as we continue to pray for our community while serving in it with words and deeds.”
For those who want to watch the Hopkinsville First United Methodist Church services virtually, they can visit their Facebook page, go to Vimeo, YouTube or visit their website www.hopfumc.org.
Jody Kilburn, director of the Christian County Baptist Association — a collective of 44 churches within the Hopkinsville/Oak Grove/Christian County area — said each church is autonomous and will therefore make their own individual decisions.
“Each congregation is not the same, and so I have taken the stance and advised the pastors to make the best decision that you can make while trying to comply with the governor’s guidance and our guide document, which is God’s word and understanding the context of your congregation,” Kilburn said.
For service times or for more information regarding individual churches in the association, go to https://www.christiancountybaptist.com/our-churches/.
Kilburn said he personally does not agree with Beshear making the request, but the churches must make the best educated decision that will benefit their individual congregations.
“The governor, in my personal opinion, has overreached his authority,” Kilburn said. “Having said that, the pastors are still responsible for making wise decisions about what to do regarding the safety of their congregation.”
The governor’s request is not mandatory.
Following the governor’s initial attempt to ban mass gatherings at religious institutions in March due to the coronavirus, Beshear was sued by Maryville Baptist Church.
In early May, a U.S. District Court judge granted a temporary restraining order that allowed churches to meet in person despite the governor’s mandate.