The weeks leading up to Easter Sunday are usually bustling and lively for churches, with Lenten services and activities percolating on calendars full of worship opportunities.
But after Thursday night’s disaster declaration by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, many local churches are opting to encourage their congregations to stay home and use technology to take in services, opting to do their part to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In some cases, the local governing bodies of entire denominations have encouraged their churches to utilize the Internet to live stream services.
“In this moment, the way that we as people of faith can do the most good and do no harm actually is to refrain from coming together,” said Bishop Michael McKee, who oversees the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. “We are learning that the most effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our communities is to practice ‘social distancing’ – minimizing exposure to infected individuals by avoiding large public gatherings and maintaining 6 feet of space from others.
“Practicing social distancing can be a way for us to prevent further infections and literally save human lives.”
McKee encouraged churches to cancel their services for March 15 and 22, and for members 60 and older to consider staying home and watching the service remotely via livestream.
“In addition, the North Texas Conference staff will be canceling all events involving more than 20 people and convening other meetings using teleconferencing technology,” McKee added. “We will adhere to this approach for the months of March and April and reassess in the coming weeks.”
“The leaders of our communities have sounded the alarm and now this shepherd is going to protect his flock.” – Bishop Edward Burns
The Catholic Diocese of Dallas took the unprecedented step of canceling public Masses for the time being.
“The leaders of our communities have sounded the alarm and now this shepherd is going to protect his flock. Effective immediately, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas will suspend all public masses until March 30, 2020,” said Bishop Edward Burns. “Our churches will remain open during the day for private prayer and Eucharistic adoration, but all Sunday masses and week day masses are canceled.”
We checked with local churches to put together a quick list of how many are choosing to worship during the outbreak. Don’t see your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque on the list? Let us know in the comments.
Northaven United Methodist Church suspended all church gatherings from Sunday, March 15, through Sunday, March 22. They will explore livestreaming services for the March 22 service.
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church has canceled all activities and services through March 28, and will livestream Sunday services.
Royal Lane Baptist Church has suspended all church activities and services, and is offering virtual worship opportunities instead.
Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church will switch to livestreaming its services starting March 15.
Preston Hollow United Methodist Church is also livestreaming its services, and is not holding public services.
Midway Hills Christian Church has canceled services for the next two Sundays, and will offer worship by teleconference instead.
St. Rita Catholic Church has suspended all public masses and liturgical services.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will not hold public services for the next two Sundays, but will livestream services.
Lovers Lane United Methodist Church is discouraging in-person attendance for March 15 services, and will suspend all in-person worship and church events (other than weddings and funerals) through April 4. Worship will be streamed online.
Grace Bible Church has suspended its services and will livestream instead.
Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church has canceled worship services, Sunday school, or church meetings for March 15 and 22, and provided a list of churches providing livestreamed services on the church’s Facebook page.
Central Congregational United Church of Christ urged its members on Facebook to take precautions, but has not indicated whether it would hold Sunday services or not.
St. Monica Catholic Church has suspended public masses.
Watermark Community Church has suspended services, but will livestream Sunday services and has encouraged their small groups to gather to watch them together if possible.
Gateway Church will hold livestreaming services on Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Dallas Temple of the Church of the Latter Day Saints has adjusted its observations as required by the county’s declaration.
Temple Emanu-El has suspended large gatherings, including morning minyan and Shabbat services, with the latter being streamed online.
First United Methodist Church Dallas has canceled live worship and ministry activities for the next two Sundays, and will show worship services on their website instead. They will make more decisions about additional dates as things unfold.
The Islamic Center of Irving has canceled all Jumu’ahs/Khutbahs, five daily prayers, and other activities.
Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church posted online that Bishop George Sumner decided to cancel all public gatherings in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas churches and facilities for the next two weeks, including public worship. The church will still celebrate a small, traditional Eucharist at 9 a.m. Sundays until further notice with an approved worship team and encourage people to watch via livestream. The Saint Michael church offices will maintain normal hours.
The Park Cities Baptist Church campus is closed and all activities and gatherings are suspended until March 22. The church is still having a worship service at 10:45 a.m. March 15 and March 22 via a livestream on their Facebook page.
Park Cities Presbyterian Church is hosting a worship service via livestream at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and will continue to worship that way until further notice.
Highland Park Presbyterian Church is moving to online worship services and temporarily postponing all gatherings and events.
Highland Park United Methodist Church is suspending in-person worship and activities until March 22, but will have a worship service via their website at the usual times.
University Park United Methodist Church is canceling the March 15 worship service but will have a message on their website. The church offices will remain open, but all other facility activities are canceled there until March 20.
Northway Christian Church will live stream a service at 10 a.m. March 15 via their Facebook page.
Saint Christopher’s Episcopal Church will host a prayer via Facebook live at 11 a.m. March 15. They won’t have public gatherings for at least two weeks.
Preston Road Church of Christ will have an online worship service in lieu of a live service March 15.
Highland Country Fellowship will have their weekly worship online in lieu of a public gathering March 15.
First Unitarian Church of Dallas will have online-only services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. March 15.
– Compiled by Bethany Erickson and Rachel Snyder