Churches stream Sunday services amid COVID-19 outbreak


ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The spread of COVID-19 prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to ban all gatherings of more than 250 people until the beginning of April.

That executive order affected many churches across the country Sunday morning as they worked to share their messages a different way.

Even though the seats were empty, that didn’t mean services were canceled. Hundreds of West Michigan churches decided to hold their services online instead, in hopes of protecting members from coronavirus.

While it wasn’t an ordinary Sunday for many places of worship, City Church Rockford Pastor Doug Bergsma decided it was a chance for an opportunity.

“When things come that challenge the way we normally do things, it causes us to adapt,” Bergsma said.

The church held its service through Facebook Live and reached more than 300 people at one point. While the church does this regularly, this time was clearly not the same.

“It just felt different with an empty audience, just talking to a camera lens,” Bergsma said. “Knowing that houses all over were full of people and families all scattered all over West Michigan, it just was a crazy vibe and reminded me of the birth of the early church when they all met in houses.”

While Bergsma couldn’t physically see his members tuning in, he knew spiritually, they were there. 

“I believe we’ll come out of this whole thing stronger than we ever, ever were before,” he said.

City Church Rockford plans to keep hosting its services online until at least April 5, when the governor’s gathering ban order ends. 

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