MSDH announces new COVID guidelines for church gatherings

The Mississippi State Department of Health updated their guidance on safer faith-based gatherings and worship services.

The MSDH states that the safest options to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable is for services to continue to be held outdoors or virtually.

While most Coast churches offer a virtual worship option, many have begun having indoor, in-person services as well.

For indoor gatherings, the state health department recommends having patrons wear masks, social distance, and use hand sanitizer prior to entering the building, MSDH also recommends everyone 65-years of age or older be fully vaccinated before attending in-person worship services.

While First United Methodist Church of Gulfport requires masks and six feet between worshippers, Pastor Claire Dobbs says being fully vaccinated is not a requirement to attend in-person services. “I’m encouraging people to get the vaccine, but you can’t force that. But we would encourage everyone out there, not just for your sake, but for the sake of others to get vaccinated. It’s certainly going to make worship much safer. All are welcome, but we hope everyone will be safe and conscientious and remember the gospel to love God and neighbor.”

To accommodate for bigger numbers of worshippers, First United Methodist will be holding two in-person Easter Sunday services, one at 8 a.m. and another at 10 a.m.

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