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Churches prepare for socially-distanced Sunday services as part of 'Phase One' reopening plan

Churches must operate at 50% capacity, people must sit six feet apart, and you’re not allowed to pass any items among attendees.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — For the past few weeks, Sunday services have been limited to drive-ins and live streams, but not any more.

Governor Northam gave the green light for churches to open back up this Sunday, but there are a few rules in place. 

It’s a new era of social distancing so if you go to church this Sunday, you can expect six feet of space between you and other worshipers.

Lead Minister of Virginia Beach’s Kempsville Christian Church Josh Childress said you’ll have to save the hugging and handshaking for another time. 

“A hand wave and a big smile from a distance is more than enough and perfectly fine," Childress said. “We actually have positioned our seating in all three spaces to accommodate the separation that’s needed.”

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Pastor Danny Dillon of Rock Church in Franklin says you can't sit next to your friends, either. His church is opening at the end of the month.

“What we’ll do each and every Sunday when people come, we’re going to have our seats six feet apart," Dillon explained. “They’re encouraging us not to give out any programs or hand out anything, so as they come in, we’ll do everything digitally.”

Additionally, the practice of passing around donation trays or leaflets at church will discontinue for the time being.

“The way we do communion is going to be different," Childress said. "We’re not passing out any trays this Sunday.”

Childress will have two difference services at three different locations in the building this Sunday.

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Pastor Adam Dragoon of Virginia Beach’s Potter’s House is taking things a step further. 

“We’re going to have people checking temperatures on the way in the door," Dragoon said. 

“We will have gloves and masks available for anybody who wants to use them and we are going to be recommending that people do that.”

He's also eliminating donation baskets.

“We’re going to remove the baskets from people’s hands that we normally pass around," Dragoon said. 

He said he'll also follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing, but keeping the church clean is nothing new.

“We were already doing a lot of that stuff anyway," Dragoon said. "So we practice wiping things down after every service. We’ve been doing that for years.”

But the drive-in services aren’t over yet. Dragoon will continue outdoor services until his church opens in "two to three weeks."

Dillon will also continue his drive-in church until his church opens its doors on May 31.

“We’re so excited that churches can open up again and start housing people because the church is needed now more than any time before,” Dillon said. “We’re really excited about not only getting in church-wise, but we’re looking forward to the days when social distance is a thing of the past."

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