SHERRILL — Plymouth Alliance Church in Sherrill has been doing all they can to keep in touch with the community and are ready as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announces the reopening of places of worship.
“I’ve been trying to figure out what we could do under the restrictions,” said Pastor Kurt Johnson. A member of the church for 28 years, Johnson faced the challenges all places of worship did once the pandemic started. “We wanted to obey those of authority but we wanted to do as much under that authority.”
Like many other churches, Johnson said Plymouth Alliance has been recording sermons and posting them online to their Youtube channel at PAC-NY.
“We’ve pre-recorded sermons, doing them in various locations and upload them by Sunday morning,” Johnson said.
One step the pastor has been taking is to keep in contact with members of the church through email, or even by conventional mail if they don’t have email. “I’ve been sending letters of encouragement each week,” he said. “Each letter is based on a Bible passage that speaks about God’s help in difficult times.”
“Obviously, there’s no other connection with our people other than phone calls,” he continued. “And while I do that, it can be difficult to call the number of people we have. It’s not a two to three-minute call, it can be a half an hour conversation. So I figured this was a good way to connect with people and invite them to take their own time to look at the Bible, pray, and find God’s encouragement.”
From the community and church family, Johnson said they’ve been positive and receptive to all the steps Plymouth Alliance Church has been taking.
The Plymouth Alliance Church Hospitality Committee has also changed gears and has been preparing meals each week and delivering them to those in need — such as seniors in the Sherrill area. Normally, Johnson said, the Hospitality Committee would be putting together a monthly fellowship hour for the church family. But due to COVID and the inability to hold gatherings, the committee has found another way to help.
One silver lining of the pandemic has been the ability to work on the church’s steeple. Around last year, the decision was made to make repairs to the church steeple totaling around $55,000.
“A piece of the steeple was coming apart and that’s not a good thing to have happen,” Johnson said. “Last year, as a budget committee, we made the decision to bite the bullet and do the job.”
Construction started last fall with weatherproofing and securing the existing structure. “[Rick Gaut] is going to re-roof, re-shingle, and recreate the decorative fascia,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping the project can be finished by late summer.”
Due to COVID, the church has been able to have work done without interrupting services.
“We had planned to do the work, even before COVID hit,” Johnson said. “It’s been a blessing because [Gaut] has been able to work without being concerned as far as people going in and out of the church.”
As of lately, services have been held in the church parking lot, along with parking lots at the city and the school Johnson said.
“We’ve been doing an outdoor service for the last month,” he continued. “I try to position myself and our worship team in a place where everyone can see us and while in their car, they tune into a radio station we’ve secured so they can worship that way.”
Recently, Cuomo announced that as of phase 4, churches, synagogues, and mosques can reopen at 33% occupancy — up from 25% of phase 2.
“We’ve made the decision to start with two services this week,” Johnson said. “We’ll be distancing and keeping our numbers below that one-third maximum.”
Johnson said the church family has been faithful to the practice of quarantining and distancing and those that still wish to distance can continue to tune in and worship without coming inside the building.
“We [at Plymouth Alliance Church] believe it’s critical for churches to be open for this one reason: so people can know how they can be right with God,” Johnson said.
Services at Plymouth Alliance Church will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Plymouth Alliance Church is located at 169 Kinsley St. in Sherrill.
For more information, visit their website at https://plymouthalliancechurch.com or visit their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/The-Plymouth-Alliance-Church-586592821493377/