'We're ready' Virginia Beach churches gear up for in-person worship

Posted at 1:49 PM, May 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 20:12:32-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - When you walk into church on Sunday, you may notice roped-off seats or tape-covered rows, a clear indication that this won't be your typical Sunday service.

"We're taking every precaution. We have a special soap in the bathroom, we have hand sanitizers at the doors, we have our greeters and our ushers [wearing] masks and gloves," said Senior Pastor at Rock Church International, Robin Blanchard.

It's been a long time coming, but Rock Church International in Virginia Beach is officially reopening.

As part of Phase One to reopen the state, Governor Ralph Northam gave churches the all-clear to hold in-person worship, with restrictions. They will have to operate at a 50% capacity and maintain social distancing guidelines.

Inside Rock Church you'll notice sections taped off with rope, new signage and small dots on the back of some chairs. Each dot is a different color and indicates a particular style of seating.

"We have sections for individuals, for couples, for families so they can all sit together if they quarantined together. There is plenty of room for anybody if you'd like to come, we're here at 10:30 a.m.," Blanchard said. Each section has separate parties sitting at least 6 feet from one another.

Blanchard said their sanctuary seats more than 5,000, which puts 50% capacity at about 2,000 people or so. With that being said, she doesn't think they will come anywhere close to hitting that number of people on Sunday.

A few miles away at Freedom Fellowship Church, they're also getting ready for their 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services.

"We have shortened our services, so each service is going to be an hour long which will give our team more than enough time to clean and reset before following service," said Preston Hocker, Associate Pastor at Freedom Fellowship Church.

Hocker said they will also alternate which rows are used so a seat isn't sat in twice. Water fountains will be closed to limit the spread of germs and hand sanitizers will be stationed around the building.

Even if the congregation is wearing the highly recommended face masks, they said they are just excited to get back into their sanctuaries.

"Even if it's just a big wave [or an] air hug from the other side of the room, it will be good to see [the community and the kids]. It will just be good to see faces that we haven't seen in a while," Hocker said.

Blanchard said the same, "We've been prepared. We've just been roaring to get back into church."

If you don't feel comfortable attending walk-in service, online services are also still being offered.