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Churches in Kern County respond to coronavirus outbreak, make changes

Churches in Kern County respond to coronavirus outbreak, make changes
Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 00:24:55-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. —
It’s been 24 hours since Governor Gavin Newsom announced the cancellation or postponement of gatherings of 250 plus people.

The Diocese of Fresno, which oversees all catholic churches in Kern County, has decided, starting on Monday, March 16-29 to suspend all parish operations.

This includes all daily masses and schools.

The Bridge Bible Church released this video, stating they too are postponing and canceling church services, gatherings, and group activities.

"However, this does not mean the Bridge Bible Church worship is on hold or canceled," said Jeff Gowling, lead pastor of Bridge Bible Church. "Now, we get to be creative as to how we function moving forward."

The church is offering on Sunday mornings a pre-recorded message for all.

Other places of worship have decided to act as well.

City Serve, a non-profit which unites over 100 churches in Kern County, to help assist those in need are responding to the outbreak.

This morning 40 of those churches making up several religious practices met with public health officials, on how to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"Each congregation is different, very diverse and we talked about general ways that they could do some things in their church different," said Robin Robinson, Canyon Hills outreach pastor and City Serve member.

Pastor Robinson says, they gathered the larger congregation that has 250 more members in the area.

Canyon Hills decided they will soon separate members on days of worship into sections.

"We would have to break it down and maybe do multiple levels of services and maybe shorten the services," Robinson said. "As we move forward we will have a plan going into next week."

St. Francis of Assisi, on average has 900 attendees at its masses.

They recently placed signs of instructions outside of its doors, with ways to limit the spread of coronavirus advised by the Diocese Fresno.

"This weekend I will be mentioning at all the masses a few things we are encouraging or discouraging," said Msgr. Ronald Swett, of St.Francis of Assisi.

"Which is we are removing all of the holy water. The other is that at a point we offer the Sign of Peace and people shake hands, we are dropping that. And encourage people to receive communion in the hand rather than on the tongue."

Just a few blocks over is the St. George Greek Orthodox Church, which says it will remain open for services.

Starting this weekend they will stream Sunday service online, eliminating kissing of the icons, and remove hymn books from pews.

"We are not greeting one another with a kiss and we don’t exchange handshakes at this time," said Father Joseph Chaffee, of St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

For a complete list of all the cancellations here in Kern County and California be sure to follow this link.