Faith communities get creative to worship together during coronavirus pandemic

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many still have questions about Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order forcing Virginians to stay home.

Some are wondering if and how they’re allowed to worship. The stay-at-home order is clear: you can still go to church but social distancing guidelines still stand. Faith communities are getting creative and still finding ways to worship together, even if not physically in the same room.

“You don’t need to be in a church building in order to have faith,” Pastor Chris Shifflett with Liberty Christian Church in Green Bay, Virginia, said.

From livestreaming Sunday service in Richmond to a drive-thru prayer tent at Joey’s Hot Dogs in Henrico, churches are bare but continue spreading hope.

“We’re turning to Jesus instead of turning to fear,” said Joey Mirabile, the owner of Joey’s Hot Dogs. “We’re feeding their tummies on the inside so we’re gonna feed their spirit out here.”

Mirabile is inviting people of all faiths to drive up and pray at his “Drive Thru Prayer Tent” from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. There are faith leaders, including pastors, on site to lead people through prayer for free.

“I’ve seen tears, I’ve seen delight. People are grateful,” Mirabile told 8News. “I believe in my heart that we will help people with the mental health if they will just slide through and spend some time with us.”

Under Northam’s new stay-at-home order, Virginians are still allowed to go to church and worship with less than 10 people. However, one faith leader has some complaints.

“It’s sort of a double standard,” Pastor Shifflett said.

The Green Bay pastor told 8News while churches are bending over backwards, it’s frustrating to see ABC stores considered essential businesses. ABC stores are open under limited hours each day and only 10 people are allowed inside each store at a time.

“All non-essential businesses to close but yet ABC stores are still open,” he said, ” we just want to be consistent across our state.”

Shifflett told 8News if people want to buy alcohol they can get beer and wine at grocery stores.

This story is developing.

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