KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Places of worship across Tennessee can reopen for worship under the Tennessee Pledge Guidelines.
For weeks, sanctuaries stood silent as congregations found new ways to worship. From Facebook to YouTube, online sermons are the new norm for many. For churches like Eternal Harvest Center in Knoxville, parking spaces are now places of praise.
“People have called in and said, 'I hear your worship from my window, and I feel good. Now I want to know who this Jesus is',” said Co-Pastor Ashley Kariuki.
“We started on Easter Sunday, and there has been such a response from the community,” said Co-Pastor Evans Kariuki.
Starting this Sunday, May 10, faith-based communities can reunite inside under these new guidelines:
- Everyone should wear a mask
- No shared food or drink like coffee stations or during communion
- Children's activities and nurseries should not resume
- People should be six feet apart
- Limit the number of people in the sanctuary to 50% capacity
When the time comes pastors Evans and Ashley Kariuki are prepared and committed to opening their sanctuary when their community is ready.
“We are working with the health department and have been recognized as one of the churches that is keeping up with every requirement,” said Evans Kariuki.
Like Eternal Harvest Center, many other churches are waiting as well. The Diocese of Knoxville plans to resume Mass on Pentecost weekend, May 30 and 31st. According to their website, Holston Conference Center of the United Methodist Church is also closed until further notice.
But as for the Kariuki's and many other congregations, they continue to worship in or out of a sanctuary.
“Even in this, God still cares. He is still watching over his people,” said Kariuki.