Sunday, December 3, 2023

Church Balances Safety with Wish for Fellowship

By Anna Tate

Journalism student

While COVID-19 is still a threat, there are churches, including Macedonia Baptist Church of Mendenhall, Mississippi, that have decided it is time to fellowship in person again.

After a 6-month hiatus from traditional face-to-face services, some church members wanted to get back into the pews. Youth Minister Becky Sullivan said they reopened cautiously.

“As a church we had a meeting, and we found out that most of our members have been vaccinated, so we decided that it would be time to come back together,” Sullivan said. “We’re excited to be able to finally meet back together and fellowship with each other and be on the other end of the COVID effects.”

Members have started coming back gradually, and Pastor David Jager has been eager to see them.

“Every Sunday since we started to come back, there has been more and more people coming to church even though they still run the risk of getting the virus,” Jager said.

By some estimates, just over 32 percent of people in Simpson County, where Macedonia Baptist Church is located, have received one vaccination dose and the risk level is considered very high. In Lafayette County, with more than 45 percent of people receiving at least one dose, the risk level is labeled medium.

Churches all across the state have had to make multiple adjustments over the past 15 months to abide by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some have been handling services strictly online, and as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread in Mississippi, even some of the youngest church members are forgoing fellowship for safety reasons right now.

“I just think it’s better to worship at home than to risk going and getting COVID and bringing it home to my family and everything,” 12-year-old Alexa Hamilton said.

As cases are surging once again, church members of Macedonia Baptist are still hoping to continue going to services while also staying safe.