Following Auburn University’s transition to online classes and the confirmation of coronavirus in Alabama, some churches in the Auburn-Opelika area with large college student populations have had to make decisions on how they will proceed with their services.
Church of the Highlands has two locations in Auburn, one on East Samford Avenue, and the other located in The Hotel at Auburn University. According to Gina Tindol, executive assistant to Pastor Layne Schranz and central campus coordinator, they have posted a plan of action on social media and their website.
The message shared was from the Senior Pastor of Highlands, Chris Hodges. Originally the church planned on continuing with normal services, but after a lot of thought decided to switch to an online sermon.
“What made the decision so tough for us is that we truly believe in times of crisis, the church is needed more than ever before," Hodges said in his video message. "We don't shut down hospitals because they care for the sick, and we feel the same way about our church ... but here's what we decided — after consulting with our church elders, local health officials and several conversations with our local mayors, the overwhelming consensus is to not have gatherings in our buildings tomorrow."
Hodges emphasized that while this was not an ideal situation for anyone, he's going to try his best to give people the best experience he can.
“I would do anything to be in church with you tomorrow, but we'll still have a great online experience," he said. "I really want you to hear the message God has given me for you, and for you to hear the plans on how we're going to serve every person we can who has been affected by this crisis."
Another church in Auburn, Auburn Community Church, took a similar approach to the news of the coronavirus. The lead pastor, Miles Fidell, said in a video posed on social media that the church thoroughly discussed what to do before ultimately deciding to record sermons and have people meet in their homes.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
“We have thought: ‘Okay, what if we just cut down the number of people who are in our gatherings or what if we gathered, but only on these times, and we have this much sanitizer and these things in place,’” Fidell said. “But just to be honest with you, it has become overwhelmingly clear that the wise decision for us as a church is to not have large gatherings here at 323 Airport Road for the foreseeable future and move toward a church at home style.”
Though worshiping virtually is a different experience, Fidell said that he hoped this wouldn’t change how engaged people were in their faith.
“Our challenge to you is going to be to take initiative,” he said. “Get with your community and make sure you are tuned in to what’s happening in the life of our church. Do not disengage from ACC because we are doing church differently.”
At the First Baptist Church of Opelika, they are taking a similar approach to Highlands regarding their services. According to a statement made by Jeff Myers, they will still be holding normal services on Sunday, but “things could change in the days ahead.”
“I am looking forward to joining you Sunday to celebrate the goodness and grace of God,” Meyers said in his letter to the congregation. “There is no substitute for assembling ourselves; however, if you are one of those who officials have communicated need to take extra precautions, please know that all of our regular services will be provided through an online opportunity.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman