Church pastors in Louisville say delta variant deterring reopening plans

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When COVID-19 forced churches and businesses to close early last year, many churches kept their doors shut for a while, but some of them still haven’t reopened and that has a lot to do with the makeup of their congregation.Dr. F. Bruce Williams, pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church, leads a predominantly Black congregation of thousands.”Even though we’re not having church, we’re still being the church, and that means we’re continuing to serve the community,” said Williams.With the delta variant surging, Williams says his plans to finally reopen the church building have been diverted.Continuing coverage: People once again lining up for COVID-19 vaccines in Louisville”We actually set a date. We set a date to reopen our doors the first weekend in August. So, we fully intended to. It was looking really good, really promising and we were scheduled to finish our upgrades about the same time, but our decision to gather is not based on desire or date. It’s based on data,” said Williams.Williams has watched the numbers closely, especially as Louisville’s predominantly Black ZIP codes have had some of the highest rates of COVID-19.”I’ve said so often during this time, that our responsibility is not just to feed the flock but to protect the flock, and if they are anxious or even upset, I would rather have them upset and alive then risk their lives,” said Williams.While Williams says he will rely on the data to determine a safe reopening date, Pastor Walter Malone says he had been doing the same thing, only reopening the doors of his church in early August.In the community: $100k in CDC grant money going to local nonprofit for COVID-19 education within Latinx community”We reopened and came back on the campus, the first Sunday in August and in preparing to come back on the campus, we considered the data and not a date,” said Malone.After 15 months of virtual services, Malone says they made the decision to reopen with strict safety guidelines, such as a mask mandate, social distancing and of course encouraging members to get vaccinated.”I would pray that everyone would consider the importance of the health and safety of all humanity and that we would not make selfish decisions, only thinking about ourselves,” said Malone.Both churches hosted vaccine clinics this summer and participated in PSA’s to encourage the community to get vaccinated.

When COVID-19 forced churches and businesses to close early last year, many churches kept their doors shut for a while, but some of them still haven’t reopened and that has a lot to do with the makeup of their congregation.

Dr. F. Bruce Williams, pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church, leads a predominantly Black congregation of thousands.

“Even though we’re not having church, we’re still being the church, and that means we’re continuing to serve the community,” said Williams.

With the delta variant surging, Williams says his plans to finally reopen the church building have been diverted.

Continuing coverage: People once again lining up for COVID-19 vaccines in Louisville

“We actually set a date. We set a date to reopen our doors the first weekend in August. So, we fully intended to. It was looking really good, really promising and we were scheduled to finish our upgrades about the same time, but our decision to gather is not based on desire or date. It’s based on data,” said Williams.

Williams has watched the numbers closely, especially as Louisville’s predominantly Black ZIP codes have had some of the highest rates of COVID-19.

“I’ve said so often during this time, that our responsibility is not just to feed the flock but to protect the flock, and if they are anxious or even upset, I would rather have them upset and alive then risk their lives,” said Williams.

While Williams says he will rely on the data to determine a safe reopening date, Pastor Walter Malone says he had been doing the same thing, only reopening the doors of his church in early August.

In the community: $100k in CDC grant money going to local nonprofit for COVID-19 education within Latinx community

“We reopened and came back on the campus, the first Sunday in August and in preparing to come back on the campus, we considered the data and not a date,” said Malone.

After 15 months of virtual services, Malone says they made the decision to reopen with strict safety guidelines, such as a mask mandate, social distancing and of course encouraging members to get vaccinated.

“I would pray that everyone would consider the importance of the health and safety of all humanity and that we would not make selfish decisions, only thinking about ourselves,” said Malone.

Both churches hosted vaccine clinics this summer and participated in PSA’s to encourage the community to get vaccinated.



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