VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Churches across the region may soon have to plan alternative ways they will offer services after Gov. Ralph Northam banned the mass gatherings of over 100 people in the commonwealth on Sunday.
The declaration comes a day after Virginia experienced its first coronavirus-related death.
Churches such as Coastal Community Church in Virginia Beach closed off the sanctuary to congregants as a safety precaution. Hank Brooks, the church's pastor, said they planned for a situation like this.
"We felt like it was going to be best to shut down our physical services and start an online service," Brooks said.
The church has cameras set up in front of the stage where Brooks, other church leaders, and musicians stand to continue providing church service.
Signs on the doors advise people the church is closed and instruct congregants to log on to the church's website where they webcast the services. It was the first weekend the church had service online.
"It would almost be the exact same service," Brooks Said. "We'd have music, we'd have announcements."
One challenge Brooks and the church are figuring out is how they would offer communion online. There's also the challenge of giving a sermon to an empty auditorium that normally holds just over 600 people, but Brooks is pragmatic.
"When we're videoing the online services, I really don't see the empty seats. Obviously I'm thinking of of the people behind the camera," Brooks explained. "I'm picturing faces, I'm thinking of terms of the message and how it's going to affect the hearts of those on the other side of the camera."
The preparations are what they are so far implementing over a challenge the coronavirus dropped on them.
"My prayer is that this virus will run its course," Brooks said. "We're prepared to do the online services as long as we need to."