Seven months later, Richmond’s First Baptist Church gets the green light for in-person services

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Signs of normalcy are returning throughout central Virginia. A Richmond church will hold in-person services for the first time since the pandemic began.

Richmond’s First Baptist Church on Monument Avenue has been strictly pre-recording services and airing them on television and social media since March.

According to leaders at the church, their “COVID-19 Response Team” has been monitoring local coronavirus trends and are now giving in-person services the green light. “The team set a benchmark for resuming in-person services — for the positivity rate for coronavirus in the greater Richmond area to decline for three consecutive weeks and get to 5 percent positivity rate or lower. The threshold has been achieved through people following safety protocols,” their website states.

It’s a long awaited homecoming for the hundreds of people who worship at one of Richmond’s largest churches. “This term ‘at home’ we’ve used a million times throughout this pandemic,” Minister of Invitation Andy Berry said. “For a lot of people, this is home, this is where family is,” he said. “There’s an eagerness and excitement to just be around community and family again.”

However, they are taking measures to keep people safe. “We are incredibly excited to be back together but we also have to do that in a very safe way,” said Berry.

They’re cutting the max capacity from more than a thousand people to just 150 pre-registered people allowed per service. Ahead of the service, folks can either call the church to register or do it on their website.

“Of course everyone will be wearing a mask, we have assigned seating in the sanctuary so people are spread out,” he said. There will also be temperature checks and hand sanitizing stations are spread out throughout the facility. Only one person is allowed in a bathroom at a time and elevators are completely closed. Signs indicate that masks are required. Other signs separate the hallways to help with crowd control. Couches and other seats have been removed so after the service, people are encouraged to head home and not hang around.

“It will feel a little bit different but we’re hoping that that sense of community and that sense of being a part of your home church will really be there for people,” Berry said.

Singing during the services is also not allowed but it will all be streamed on social media channels and on WRIC-TV.

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