After 15 months, St. Paul Baptist Church reopens its doors for in-person Sunday service

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A community was reunited Sunday after more than a year apart.

Pastor Devereaux Hubbard at St. Paul said they were hesitant to reopen, and waited until they felt it was safest.

“We’ve been taking our time,” Hubbard said. “Many of our members are part of the most vulnerable population.”

With the return of in-person worship, Pastor Hubbard said he wanted to address what people have gone through since the beginning of the pandemic.

“So for this entire month, we’re actually going to focus on the issue of anxiety. Understanding that a lot of people are anxious and dealing with anxiety,” Hubbard said. “This is something that we all share as far as an experience. It is very normal to be anxious.”

One churchgoer, David Glassco, said it was difficult being away from church for so long.

“Something about not being in the building, you know. Not hearing, feeling the music; not feeling the words that pastor’s speaking,” Glassco said.

But, despite the challenges, he said the church community was able to grow.

“It was actually a blessing in disguise, because now, instead of having church in four walls, we can have church from Peoria to Texas or Peoria to Florida,” Glassco said.

Church leaders said they will continue virtual and hybrid events while slowly reopening more. For those who aren’t ready to come back, Hubbard has a solution for them, too.

“St. Paul is everywhere,” he said, reiterating those that are not comfortable coming back in person will still be included virtually.

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