As the number of COVID-19 victims declines rapidly, places of worship are taking steps to resume in-person worship services. Among them is the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in South LA (GEMBC).
According to Pastor DeNon A. Porter, GEMBC will resume in-person worship on Sunday, June 6 at 11 a.m. However, a number of protocols have been implemented to ensure the health and safety of the congregation. Porter explained that it was after deliberate and careful consideration that he and church leaders decided to reopen the shrine to members and friends.
Describing some of the factors that influenced the decision, the pastor said, “We were fortunate to be able to call on the expertise of some of the health professionals in our congregation. Along with them, we prayerfully monitored the infection and hospitalization rates in the county and tried to stay abreast of the latest guidelines at the local, state and national levels.
“While the numbers have steadily declined along with the increase in vaccinations, we believe the Lord has given the green light to begin the process of returning. “
Porter said that since the building will initially open at 25% capacity, attendees must “pre-register the week before the service.” Although vaccinations are not mandatory, the pastor said, “but we strongly encourage it.”
Many health measures instituted over the past year will also be mandatory for participants, such as checking temperatures and completing a COVID screening form at the entry site. In addition, social distancing procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease and Control will be implemented.
Porter said this translates to “six feet of distance between parishioners from different households, with masks required at all times for adults and children over two.” He added that hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the sanctuary.
Like many churches, GEMBC has maintained an active virtual ministry during the pandemic, including online Sunday worship, Bible studies, and other activities. As one of the largest congregations in southern LA, Greater Ebenezer has a long history of positively impacting the surrounding neighborhood through a variety of community outreach and evangelism programs.
The Greater Ebenezer Baptist Missionary Church is located at 5300 South Denker Avenue in Los Angeles. To learn more, visit gembcla.org.