Las Vegas churches are finding ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that has virtually shut down much of the valley.
“We decided to we need to be proactive in all aspects,” said Pastor Don Pieper, who has led Green Valley Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1799 Wigwam Parkway in Henderson, for 30 years.
In addition to a ban on handshakes and close contact during services (there were several elbow rubs after Sunday’s service), the church plans to assist with food and other needs for any members without relatives in the area who may have to be isolated because of possible symptoms.
“If people are homebound, we plan to check up on them at least twice a week and see that any food or, if needed, medical needs are met,” Pieper said, nothing church volunteers were being enlisted for a phone tree, to determine individual’s needs, shopping trips and deliveries of food and other items.
Church leaders said they had about 125 names of people who may not have relatives in the valley and are prepared to help any or all of them with volunteers.
The church also runs an elementary school, which it plans to keep open unless Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak or the Clark County School District orders schools closed.
“Even then we’ll make arrangements to care for children of parents of police, firefighters and first responders,” Pieper said.
Sunday’s 8 a.m. service was attended by about 50 people, well below the normal 80, Pieper said, adding that the smaller attendance began last Sunday. A later service normally has about 160 attendees but was down to 100 last Sunday.
“We have a capacity of 300 so it is easy to spread out in here,” Pieper said.
Other steps included not passing the offering plate but leaving it at the back of the church. On Sundays when communion is served, it will be done with several feet of social spacing rather than lining up at the altar in close proximity.
“We pray to God that this (COVID-19) will pass sooner rather than later,” Pastor Paul Kolander said during the service. “When people are fighting each other over toilet paper at Costco, something is very wrong with the world.”