Churches continue to worship online despite now deemed essential by state lawmakers

HOUSTON – Many Houston churches are asking their members to continue to watch services online even as the Texas government has deemed churches as essential businesses. Essential businesses are allowed to lawfully operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pews at South Main Baptist Church in Midtown will remain vacant on Palm Sunday and Easter, which is a holy time of the year for Christians. Pastor Steve Wells said his congregation is following the Harris County Stay Home, Work Safe order.

“We plan to continue doing that so long as the County Judge recommends doing so," Well said. "Our current plan is to do that through April 30,” he said.

Wells’ church members will maintain their social distance from the comfort of their homes.

“The best thing we can do to love our neighbors … is to practice social distancing,” he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott modified his executive order Tuesday, deeming churches as essential businesses.

Religious activities should either be conducted by remote services or if conducted in person, consistent with the social distancing guidelines set by the Trump administration and the CDC, Abbott said,

South Main Baptist Church is not alone in the decision to remain closed.

Second Baptist Church will continue to stream its services online for its various campuses. Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Christ Church Cathedral and Lakewood Church also plan to remain virtual.