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While some Hampton Roads churches are ready to open, others are waiting

Some Hampton Roads pastors are opening their church doors for the first time for in-person services, while others are sticking to virtual sermons for the time being.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Friday, President Trump announced that churches were essential as the first and second reopening phases for many states get underway. 

Some Hampton Roads churches are letting people inside for in-person services, while others are taking a more cautious route. 

"Our decisions, and decisions that we make, have an impact on those around us and we’ve seen that not just within our own family but around our entire world," said Essential Church Pastor Steven Swisher.  

Essential Church knows the meaning of "essential" is important for their community. 

"We've passed out 16,000 rolls of toilet paper over the past 10 weeks. We've collected 5,000 items for our food pantry that's been given out every single week. We've been giving paper towels; five gallons of hand sanitizer in little three-ounce bottles," Swisher said. 

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Swisher has been asked several questions during these uncertain times. 

"Of course during this time I get asked a lot of questions. Questions about the meaning of life? What's God's role? What’s been going? This isn’t just a community thing, it’s a worldwide pandemic," Swisher noted. 

Swisher explained when people come to church they will have to enter through the back door. 

“By entering through the back it allows us to have a cue line to be able to keep the six-foot separation as people are entering," said Swisher. 

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In addition, some of the chairs will be turned backward to provide the required six feet of spacing.

Swisher has different types of face masks for staff to wear at all times. Members are given the option to wear masks, but Swisher also holds a special service where face coverings are required.

“On Friday mornings, we're offering a service that's a mask-only service for those who are immune-compromised," said Swisher. 

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Wave Church is keeping its doors closed for now. They have eight locations across Hampton Roads. 

Pastor Joshua Kelly has stayed optimistic and has a message for the thousands in his congregation. 

"What I believe, there is hope no matter how dark it gets. There’s always hope," said Kelly. 

They will open back up soon. 

“We come back officially, have services in our church building on June 7 and on May 31. The Sunday before that, we’re going to bring in all of our volunteers to make sure everybody is trained.”

Closed or open, the message for the two pastors are the same: they want to remind others the situation is moving forward. 

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