Amidst mounting challenges brought about by COVID-19 concerns and government directives, South Snohomish County churches are responding in a varying degree concerning the question of how to – if at all – conduct their regular Sunday worship services.
A number of local churches have made the decision to cancel their Sunday services for now.
Alderwood Community Church in Lynnwood hasn’t conducted a live Sunday morning worship service since March 1, instead offering a weekly video of a pastor’s message on their website. “We encourage all of our ACC family to conduct a small worship service at home,” the site also states.
While the Sunday morning services at Alderwood Community Church would fall victim to the state’s restriction on gatherings of 250 people or more, leadership closed the building to all visitors before Gov. Jay Inslee announced the restriction order on March 11. The decision to close was due in part to positive coronavirus test results of some who attend the church.
“We have been made aware of several of the Alderwood church family who have tested positive recently for COVID-19 and we need to surround them with our support and prayers as well,” the church’s website reported.
Westgate Chapel in Edmonds has also announced that the coronavirus has touched them directly. “An older male congregant has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He is currently hospitalized and under quarantine,” the church’s website announced. All services and gatherings at the church have been suspended until at least March 22; church leadership plans on meeting the next day to consider a longer closure.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, although not having any known congregants that have tested positive for COVID-19, is suspending all of its meetings and gatherings, including Sunday and Wednesday worship services.
All Catholic churches in the region, including Mountlake Terrace’s St. Pius X and Edmonds’ Holy Rosary and Lynnwood’s St. Thomas More Parish, have canceled their Sunday and weekday public masses.
Other local churches that have cancelled their in-person Sunday services include North Sound Church in Edmonds, Edmonds United Methodist Church, Community Christian Fellowship in Edmonds, Edmonds Lutheran Church, Holy Trinity Edmonds, Mosaic Community Church in Edmonds, Northern Seattle Grace Church in Edmonds, Evangelical Chinese Church in Lynnwood, Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, New Beginnings Church in Lynnwood, New Life Church in Lynnwood, Northwest Church in Lynnwood, Renew Church in Lynnwood, Silver Creek Family Church in Lynnwood, Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Lynnwood and Brookview Church in Brier.
Almost all the local churches that have suspended Sunday morning gatherings will livestream versions of their morning worship services.
While the list of churches closing their doors on Sunday morning is long, so is the list of South Snohomish County churches that are continuing with regular worship services, albeit with a few changes. Most churches that are meeting will do so with advisories that those who are feeling sick should stay home, communion will be served differently, offering plates won’t be passed and times of fellowship will be shortened or cancelled completely.
Mountlake Terrace’s biggest church, Calvary Fellowship, will not only be holding its two regular Sunday morning services on March 15, but will also host another church service in the evening. Terrace Foursquare Church will conduct its Sunday programming at Calvary Fellowship beginning at 5 p.m. Terrace Foursquare’s usual home, Mountlake Terrace Elementary School, is unavailable due to the Edmonds School District not allowing community use of their facilities until late April.
Terrace Foursquare Church Lead Pastor Trevor Loya was pleased that a new locale for the church’s Sunday service was secured with little difficulty.
“Calvary has been very supportive of Terrace (Foursquare) and Pastor Riley (Taylor) and I have become friends,” Loya said. “So when this all happened I reached out to those I knew and they immediately opened their doors to us; super grateful for them.”
Taylor, Calvary Fellowship’s Pastor and Director of Preaching and Vision, was enthusiastic about the chance to help out a fellow Mountlake Terrace church.
“As two communities unified by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we see ourselves as on the same team,” Taylor said. “In my mind, this is a great opportunity to show support for one another, come together and be one.”
“Terrace Foursquare lost their gathering space, which is tough for churches, especially at times like this,” Taylor continued. “If I were in their shoes, I’d greatly appreciate another church coming alongside us and helping us shoulder that burden. It’s amazing to be in this together.”
— By Doug Petrowski