AURORA, Colo. — Sundays mark a day of prayer and worship, but the coronavirus pandemic caused churches across the nation and here in Colorado to close. Many turned to technology to stream their service to help prevent the virus from spreading.
Pastor Phil EuBank of Eastern Hills Community Church gave Denver7 a tour of the empty house of worship. He says on a typical Sunday between 2,000 and 2,500 members attend church, but today every seat was empty. The bustle of prayer and unity was replaced by silence and distance, and the only attention on the stage came from several cameras.
"The way we love our neighbors and the way we love our community is helping to prevent the spread and slow the spread of the coronavirus," EuBank said. "For us, it's not about being fearful; it's about being responsible."
He says they have streamed services in the past, but this marked the first time all the services were streamed online. The Sunday service was available on the church website, Facebook Live, and on TVs with streaming features.
EuBank says their community work will not stop. He says they are putting together trailers so they can bring meals and services to the city without the large groups.
Unity Spiritual Center Denver also closed its doors in Denver.
Reverend David Howard says he sent out a letter to church members on Thursday to let them know they would be open on Sunday, but he had a change of heart after Governor Jared Polis held a press conference on Friday.
"We thought it would be best not to risk infecting anyone," he said.
He hosted a live service on Facebook during regular service. An experience he says is entirely new to him.
"We have never streamed our service before, so yes, it's very new for us, and we are looking for better technology in the future, but for now, we are doing it on Facebook live because it's the most accessible."
The coronavirus pandemic swayed churches to close their doors, but Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Aurora kept their doors open and streamed their service.
"Whatever has caused the coronavirus as people of God we are not fearful," Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Ida Smith said.
She added that they typically have about 300 members attend church, but only about 100 showed up for the morning sermon.
"Our faith in God is very strong, and God is still in control," Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church administrator Renee Minor said.
The church posted on the doors, "Upon entering, you must use the sanitizer." Reverend Smith said they also asked worshippers to hold their hand over their hearts to signify a handshake and wave in place of "holy kisses."
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic marks new territory for many churches, where people seek support and guidance in a time of need.
"Right now, this is what love looks like," EuBank said.
In the meantime, EuBank says they are making plans as they adjust to social distancing.
"I think that we are all gearing up for this being for a few weeks and trying to do what we can," he said.