HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — While there has yet to be any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Alabama, the concerns of the virus spreading are changing the way large groups of people meet.
Riverchase United Methodist Church has over 2,700 members. On Sunday, the church held an open house for their new Music and Fine Arts building.
CBS 42’s Malique Rankin spoke with the lead pastor on the changes he’s made to keep his congregation healthy as the threat of the coronavirus nears.
Dr. Richard Hunter said Riverchase has already made changes to create a healthier environment for members. The communion bread is now served with tongs and the grape juice is distributed in individual glasses. He has also asked their greeters to take a more hygienic approach to welcome guests.
“We’re telling them to fist bump, uses their elbows, or just wave at each other,” Hunter said.
The church hosts over 1,600 hundred people each week. Riverchase is in the second phase of a four-phase plan as concerns over the coronavirus grow.
“We will institute some more steps that have to do with wiping down our pews between services. We already clean our bathrooms between services,” Hunter said.
If coronavirus outbreaks were to occur in the Birmingham area, Hunter said they can still give their sermons online.
“It may be that if there is an outbreak that we can go virtual for worship and study… if it gets to that point, we will still be a seven day a week, just virtually,” he said.
Hunter said there is a power in prayer, and that is the message he is sharing with his church as concerns rise.
“[The message is] to remind each other that fear is not a part of our faith,” he said.
Hunter said the church is staying up to date on recommendations from the CDC and is making adjustments accordingly.
The new building the church opened is three-stories, designed to support music and the fine arts in worship. The nearly 14,200-square-foot structure links all levels of parking and building floor levels on the campus. The windows in the choir room are arranged to depict the congregation’s favorite hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
To learn more about the church, click here.