Sunday Services Change as Churches Try to Stop Community Spread of COVID-19

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In light of Dallas County announcing community spread of the novel coronavirus, North Texas churches are re-evaluating services in a new COVID-19 pandemic world.

Many are canceling services and planning to live stream via their websites or social media.

On Thursday, Pope Francis live-streamed his private daily Mass and called for everyone to pray for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pope Francis live-streamed his private daily mass on Thursday and asked everyone to pray for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas, on Friday, announced that effective immediately, public Masses and Sunday catechetical classes are suspended until March 30.

"These are without a doubt extraordinary days and they necessitate extraordinary measures. We have learned in we're in a state of emergency. The leaders have sounded the alarm and now this shepherd is protecting his flock," said Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

All Catholic schools in the diocese will remain closed and move to eLearning until March 27.

"We are going to be video streaming our masses at the cathedral, and so people are able to go online and celebrate from home," said Burns.

Amid concerns about community spread of coronavirus, Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas announced Friday that all public masses and Sunday catechetical classes would be suspended until March 30.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is making adaptations to mass and enacting coronavirus precautions including no holding hands or shaking hands, the host will be handed out, communion will not be administered by a chalice, and Holy Water fonts will be emptied.

Several North Texas churches have opted to cancel services and instead turn to streaming church services.

At one of the largest megachurches in the country, Gateway Church in Southlake, pastor Robert Morris recorded his Sunday sermon on Friday in front of a small audience. Church members can watch online over the weekend.

"We have a pandemic facing our world right now," Morris said. "We want to be a part of the solution. I'm concerned about our people but I'm (also) concerned about every person."

Prestonwood Baptist Church is offering Sunday services online only.

The Potter's House has postponed services until further notice and invites members to join via livestream instead.

Greenwood Baptist Church in Weatherford will be livestreaming services on the church website and social media.

The First Baptist Church of Dallas is planning to have worship services and Sunday school, but says those unable to attend are invited to worship online.

Dallas megachurch First Baptist announced Friday its decision to proceed with in-person Sunday services, while not violating Dallas County’s temporary ban on large gatherings.

The main worship venue will sit up to 500 people only so as to comply with the county’s rules.

Three additional over-flow venues on the campus will then accommodate groups of no more than 500 each.

First Baptist says at least 5,000 people typically attend Sunday services.

The changes were made to comply with the public health emergency declared in Dallas County that bans public gatherings of 500 or more people for a one-week period to contain and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Pastor Robert Jeffress says he supports the county declaration and will full comply with it.

NBC 5 asked Jeffress about the decision to have in-person services as opposed to suspending services or opting to livestream services.

“We don’t want to put anybody at risk but we do feel like there’s a difference between being together and watching online, even though we have 90,000 people watching us every week online,” he said. “I heard an archbishop describe the difference as sitting by an open fire and watching a fire on TV. It's a little bit of a different experience.”

However, Pastor Jeffress urges anyone feeling ill to stay home.

Because of the large number of churches in the more than 30 counties NBCDFW covers, the faithful should check their church website to learn specific plans for Sunday and beyond.

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