First Baptist Church Huntsville returns to fully virtual services

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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – A church in Huntsville is preparing to return to virtual worship in the foreseeable future after months of in-person service.

After seeing the number of cases increase in Madison County, First Baptist Church senior pastor Travis Collins and his team decided it would be safer to move to virtual streaming.

Collins said it’s been a tough day, saying he couldn’t help but think of the same service last year.

“A year ago this building would have been filled with people, music echoing on the walls, hugs and handshakes,” said Pastor Collins.

Pastor Collins said the team’s recent decision to return to virtual services comes after consulting with Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers on COVID-19 hospitalization numbers. He also spoke to healthcare workers within his own congregation.

“One young woman in particular who told me how tired our healthcare workers are, not just from work, but from death,” he said.

Over the past few months, worshipers have had the option of broadcasting services or attending in person as well.

This is the second time that FBC has temporarily limited the cult to streaming; the first six-week suspension came in March when COVID-19 cases increased in the region.

Church leaders plan to meet and discuss updates on the status of COVID-19 and the church later in January.

Virtual services begin every Sunday at 8:15 am with their first communion service. At 10:30 a.m., they will broadcast their worship from the shrine on News 19 and on their website.

Viewers can also watch older service streams if they wish; these can be found on the church page.

Collins said that during this time of virtual worship, they hope to prepare the now empty church for the congregation’s return to the pews by installing anti-bacterial UV lamps, which will be installed in the church’s HVAC system.

Collins said there was a silver lining amid the uncertainty. They are launching a new 30 minute show on WHDF on Sunday morning, in addition to their current live broadcast plan on WHNT. Pastor Collins said the new service is offered to those “who may not be used to the culture of the church,” he said.

“There will be a community segment, there will be a short message. There will be some really good music, so we think we’ve been prompted by the pandemic to step into this new path to get the message out, ”said Pastor Collins.

Church leaders say they will continue to monitor cases of COVID-19 in Madison County to determine when it’s time to start worshiping together again.

Perry A. Thomasson