A congregation in Illinois has taken steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and allow for a safer in-person worship experience by temporarily installing Plexiglas barriers for some of their pews.
Progressive Church of God in Christ of Springfield recently added the barriers, which can be removed from the pews when deemed necessary, and has used them during worship.
Pastor Glenn Jackson of Progressive Church told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday that the idea and creation of the barriers occurred a couple of months ago.
Jackson felt it was “extremely important” to have the church members be “able to come together in a faith environment to have fellowship” to counter the many who were “experiencing some level of depression or sense of isolation.”
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where people can come, young and old,” explained Jackson. “I thought it was important that for their emotional, physical, mental, and more importantly for their spiritual health to be able to come back into the house of worship.”
“I thought this was something that we can do, to bring them. More importantly, bring them safely into the house so they can be fed spiritually.”
Jackson gave his concept and design for the barriers to a friend and former coworker who was a woodsman, creating the Plexiglas barriers at a price of about $200 - $300 per pew.
He said that he has been “pleasantly surprised” by how well the barriers have worked since the church began to hold worship services, with the pastor liking how they are not a permanent addition to the pews.
“It works perfectly for our sanctuary and it’s done without having to use any screws or anything that’s not a permanent fixture. We can lift it up and move it, so that was to me the key without really messing with the aesthetics or the interior of the church,” he explained.
“We can now group families together in these Plexiglas areas which provide some coverage of safety and it has worked out quite well. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how it’s all come together. It's eased the tension of many of the members coming back in the house of worship and they’re excited about being able to come back in.”
There have only been a few complaints from some members of the congregation.
“Obviously, you have some members who say they did not realize that they were somewhat claustrophobic, but they have moved back to some of the other pews or they have moved up forward in the church,” said Jackson. “So it works out well.”
In response to the pandemic, the vast majority of churches in the United States canceled their in-person worship to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and switched to online services.
As churches across the country reopen, they look to ways to meet that take into consideration public health concerns, such as spacing out attendees and requiring the wearing of face masks.
Some congregations have also taken to holding services outdoors or “drive thru” worship, in which people attend while in their cars and listen to worship through a radio broadcast.