MURRAY — Local churches in the community are shifting to online services due to the outbreak of COVID-19, with a confirmed case having attended a church service at University Church of Christ in Murray on Sunday. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had recommended church buildings close their doors and suspend public gatherings the week prior. Thursday, Beshear announced a reinforced ban on all public gatherings, including church congregations. 

“I am a person of deep faith, I am a deacon in my church and this is a hard decision,” Gov. Beshear said in a press release. “This is not a test of faith. This is something we must do to keep each other safe.”

“I have been inspired by men and women who lead faith communities across our commonwealth as they have done the best they possibly can to practice adaptive leadership as we have faced this unprecedented crisis,” said the Rev. Corrie Shull, senior pastor of the Burnett Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville during Beshear’s daily update Thursday. “Men and women of faith are following the excellent leadership of our governor and we are complying as best we can to mitigate against the spread of this virus. Our faith community is doing our best to make church happen, but in creative ways. Just because we cannot gather does not mean church stops. In the midst of this crisis, people of faith are finding outstanding ways to spread hope, faith and love. Please hear the wise words of our governor, of national leadership and the CDC – please do not put our most vulnerable at risk.”

Some churches in Murray moved to online services this past weekend, and in the wake of the first confirmed case in the county, other churches are following suit and suspending in-person gatherings. First United Methodist Church in Murray was one of the churches to suspend their services last weekend, moving to a livestream on Facebook and their website. 

In a Facebook post on Friday, FUMC pastor Jeffrey Rudy said that church staff is taking steps to begin working from home immediately. 

“Our staff has been taking steps to work from home effective immediately,” Rudy wrote on Facebook Friday. “I told them last night to lock the doors today and take final steps in the office to be able to access their work info at home during the week. Those steps include finding ways to have phone calls forwarded to us remotely and arranging a way for our mail to continue being delivered in a safe and secure manner.

“Those whose jobs involve maintaining and cleaning our facilities will still come in at times during the week but the offices will not be open.” 

First Baptist Church in Murray also made the decision to cancel services on March 15, and is utilizing social media as well to reach members of the congregation. Services for both FUMC and First Baptist are also being carried on Murray Electric System’s Channel 15. 

Glendale Road Church of Christ met last Sunday and made their service available online for those who didn’t wish to attend. Friday, the church announced it would be suspending services through at least March 29. 

“With a tremendous amount of serious consideration concerning the safety of individuals, both members of our congregation, and members of the community at large, and meeting with health care professionals for their input, it is the decision of the Glendale Elders that we cancel all services at the Glendale Road Church of Christ including Sunday (morning services) for the next two weeks,” reads the post made to the church’s Facebook page. “Many have taken advantage of our live streaming capabilities. Although, the service broadcast will be played from past tapes. You will still have the ability to stream a prerecorded service.” 

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