Many Frankfort churches are following Gov. Andy Beshear’s request to voluntarily cease in-person services for two weeks.
Beshear’s request came in response to a recent escalation of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate in Kentucky.
The State Journal conducted a survey of several local churches to see where they stand on this request. Of the eight churches that answered, five chose to remain open, and three will remain closed to in-person services.
All of the churches that were already open chose to remain open and vice versa. Despite this trend churches remaining open seemed to be a majority, but they were also much easier to contact.
Pastor Steve Kirkland, of West Frankfort Church of God, said the church does not plan to shut down because they are a small congregation and have “plenty of social distancing room.”
“If we couldn’t social distance, and that kind of stuff, we’d do something different,” Kirkland said.
Many churches feel that if other non-essential businesses are open, they should be too, like Pastor Mike Butler of Crestwood Baptist who said “If you can go to the Louisville Zoo and Kentucky Kingdom and everywhere else you can come to church.”
He added that the church is doing “everything that we could be doing” to keep its members safe.
Pastor Mike Colston at Memorial Baptist said in the same vein that his church didn’t see the need to shut down since restaurants could stay open at 25% capacity and added that his congregation was operating at an even lower capacity.
"I appreciate our governor,” said Colston. “He’s made some hard calls and I admire him more than I ever have because of those tough calls, and we will abide by those calls.”
Capital City Christian and East Frankfort Baptist also plan to stay open.
David Goins, Director of Music and Worship at First United Methodist said they were originally going to reopen on Aug. 9, but decided to postpone due to “increased risk factors within our community.”
“We will spend our efforts trying to reach out during this time and using virtual services and small group settings (10 or less) to continue to grow the faith of the congregation,” Goins said.
Pastor Keith Felton of First Baptist Church said his church has been closed since March and didn’t plan to reopen until at least after August.
“For our congregation, which is an older congregation,” Felton said, “we don’t have a sanctuary where we can spread out. That has driven our decision more than anything.”
First Presbyterian Church office manager Sherry Bell said they were already closed and they “probably will be for a while.”