Churches have made many changes and sacrifices in an effort to maintain the church- going experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For nearly a year, gyms, restaurants and other businesses have been fighting an uphill battle in hopes of returning to some form of normalcy.
Similarly, religious sanctuaries have managed to find ways to get people through their doors, and continue bring them together.
“We’re a very supportive and respectful community,” said Rev. Robert Noble of the Federated Church of Castleton.
Like most churches in the area, the Federated Church of Castleton records services live for viewers to watch from the safety of their homes, without worrying about getting the virus or spreading it.
Due to the large space in the Federated Church of Castleton, they are able to accommodate about 60 people for masses. Attendees are able to be at a safe distance from each other and have masks on. Despite that capacity, average attendance for an in-person service is roughly 30 to 35 people, Noble said.
Other measures have also been taken to reduce the points of contact, such as having the bulletins distributed to the people in attendance, and the removal of Sunday School and hymnals, he said.
“There’s no hymn singing, because that would be a spreader, and when I’m preaching, there’s a plexiglass barrier that I’m looking through,” Noble said.
Due to the virus being spread through the mouth, anyone who does any talking or singing has a similar plexiglass wall in front of them, he said.
Noble said some people just like coming to church, and others who are more cautious view the services when they are live-streamed.
“It’s been months since my family and I have attended service in person because we don’t want to spread the virus to others,” said Maxim Paszko, a student at Castleton University. “The whole experience isn’t the same when you’re not there in person with your friends and family.”
“I have grandparents that are at risk, so I’ve been attending service through live- streams,” said student Matthew Jensen.
Both Paszko and Jensen have had overall positive experiences with the virtual services.
So far, the current system has worked because Noble said the church has been COVID-free since the pandemic began.
Noble is optimistic that with the vaccine, more seats will be filled in the summertime.