Cape Fear churches continue to adapt worship services during the pandemic

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and local churches continue to adapt as the pandemic alters their Sunday services.

Some churches were forced to close their doors to in-person services when they pandemic started, hoping to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus amongst their congregation.

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Now, churches like Summerville AME Zion Church in Leland, and St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church have allowed their congregations to return for in-person worship. Both are currently offering services outdoors from their parking lots, and Saint Paul’s now adding an indoor service with limited seating and social distancing.

The leaders of both churches said they have noticed a recent increase in the attendance of their churchgoers.

“We’ve seen our attendance increase due to the fact that we can have people in their cars who can come. We’re seeing younger people starting to come to church. We’re starting to see families coming together,” said Nathaniel Johnson, Summerville AME Zion Church Pastor.

“Last week Easter, we had a really good crowd for outdoors, and indoors we’re able to incrementally get bigger. So, we started low, but now we are able, because of our spacing to get about 60 in,” said Jonathan Conrad, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Senior Pastor.

Both pastors also shared they are thankful for the support from their congregations, as their churches have been able to maintain financially despite challenges faced during this time.

“Even in the pandemic, we have been able to make sure that all of the necessary things that we need as far as finances are still there. Some folks have increased their giving,” said Johnson.

“We’re doing okay now; it was tough at the beginning. We also did apply, and we did receive a small business loan that turned into a grant, which helped us during that summer, and since then we’ve been on decent footing, and we’ve had some wonderful generous gifts come in from members of the church and the community,” said Conrad.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, places of worship that have been impacted financially by the pandemic, are eligible to apply for a paycheck protection program loan or an economic injury disaster loan by May 31, or until program funds run out.