Woodford County churches stay virtual, don’t go against governor’s orders

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WOODFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD)–The Woodford County State’s Attorney, announced last Wednesday he would not enforce Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Two local churches though decided to keep services virtual.

Although there would be no legal action against them, Pastors Bradley Watkins and Mike Carlson say they decided to keep church services Sunday online. Both men claim more discussion is needed to transition back to in-person services.

In what seems like the new normal, churches across the United States have been streaming services online since mid-March.

“It’s been a very different way of doing ministry,” said lead pastor at Germantown Hills Baptist Church, Reverend Mike Carlson.

Under Governor Pritzker’s most recent order, churches are still not allowed to hold in-person service due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.

“If you put one of those people in a room full of parishioners, you run the risk of an exponential run of this disease,” said Governor Pritzker on Thursday.

On Sunday churches in Woodford County could have held in-person services with no penalty, per the county’s state attorney. Pastor Mike Carlson says his church decided to play it safe this weekend.

“I wanted to make sure that we’re going to be following the CDC guidelines when it comes to cleanliness and making sure our building is safe from that perspective,” Carlson said.

Bradley Watkins, pastor at Willow Hill United Methodist Church is also abiding by the governor’s orders.

“Bishop Baird issued an order that we will would continue to follow the governor’s orders,” Watkins said.

Both church leaders say many of their parishioners are in the ‘at-risk’ category; it’s about keeping the most vulnerable safe.

“We want to make sure we’re being wise and just protecting everybody that would come but protecting us a church family,” Carlson said.

“As a church, family, we care for our larger community family,” Watkins said.

Both churches say when in-person services resume, social distancing measures will be put in place as a precaution.

Both men say their churches have undergone deep cleanings and the hardest part of being virtual is not being together in-person physically.

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