New Life Apostolic Church on Hog Mountain Road was one of the first churches in Oconee County to open up its sanctuary in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Our goal as a church was to be part of the solution and not the problem,” said Dorcas Hammond, the wife of pastor Tim Hammond.
When New Life reopened on May 17, it offered a 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. service in lieu of one singular service. To mitigate crowding, administrative assistant Andy Wilson said that the church split members with names A-M and N-Z into two subgroups and told them which service to attend.
“Every week, we rotate which [group] comes to which service,” Andy Wilson, administrative assistant.
Additionally, New Life offers live streams of its Sunday and Wednesday services. The Bible studies are also live streamed.
For people attending in-person, the church has established protocol for entry. There is an entrance just for people age 65 or older, and the other entrance lets people in right by the information table.
“Those traffic cones outside are six feet apart,” Wilson said.
Once inside, ushers wearing masks direct people to a designated seat section, which is two rows apart from other seats. Conversely, the sanctuary has arrows marking the exit path down the middle aisle.
“At the end of service, we traditionally have an altar call,” Wilson said. “Now, we have the ushers come and dismiss everyone aisle by aisle.”
New Life also provides attendees with hand sanitizer; bathrooms are sanitized in between uses; and the sanctuary is sanitized in between services.
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