Mariners Church, one of the largest churches in America and the second largest in the state of California, announced Tuesday that it will resume in-person worship services this weekend after officials in Orange County lifted some restrictions on businesses and religious organizations.
In a statement to The Christian Post, the church said its Irvine campus will be open for live, socially distanced in-person and outdoor worship services at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Churchgoers are encouraged to wear face coverings and seating will be arranged to accommodate physical distancing. Worshipers will also be able to access a touchless experience through the Mariners Church app where guests can see sermon notes, worship lyrics and giving opportunities. The church will also continue offering a variety of socially distanced worship options such as its spacious outdoor campus to accommodate individuals and families.
“God has been so gracious in providing Mariners Church with a beautiful and spacious outdoor campus that enables us to safely welcome back the community,” Senior Pastor Eric Geiger said in a statement. “We’re truly blessed to be in a position where people can unite in powerful worship, sing and pray together, reconnect with friends and hear God’s word — all outdoors and physically distanced. Our weekend services will have something for everyone in the family to enjoy and at all comfort levels.”
On Tuesday, Orange County moved up from the purple to the red tier of the state's coronavirus tracking system, allowing many businesses to reopen and indoor religious services to resume with some restrictions, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett told ABC 7.
"This significant move to the red tier for Orange County indicates that we are hopefully getting the upper hand on COVID-19,'' Bartlett said a week earlier. "I look forward to cautiously opening up our local economy so we experience some level of normalcy once again in our day-to-day lives."
Orange County can now reopen movie theaters and restaurants for indoor dining at 25% capacity and churches for indoor worship at 25% capacity. Shopping centers can also expand from 25% capacity to half capacity under the red tier.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mariners Church said they have responded creatively to members with a variety of meeting options after indoor worship services were halted.
These creative approaches include: Mariners Online weekend services; Mariners Hosted at Home, which is a program designed to allow Mariners' congregants to safely gather at home with a smaller group of friends and neighbors to worship together; Mariners in the Neighborhood, which brings the Mariners weekend worship experience to six outdoor and spacious Orange County venues to serve the communities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Laguna Hills, Irvine, Santa Ana and Tustin.
The church is expected to launch a new message series this weekend titled, “Who is this God? Discovering the Character of the Creator.”
Additional details on the church’s safety guidelines can be found here.