SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – An empty church is standard on a Wednesday afternoon. The pews are mostly clear, the door is closed, and the pulpit is vacant.
Only pastor Bernie Elliot and his daughter Eden fill the halls.
For the middle of the week, that’s normal, but on a Sunday morning, that’s unheard of.
The community tried its best to stick together through the COVID-19 pandemic that forced everyone to seperate.
“A big emphasis became how do we then care for people and people don’t kind of get lost in the midst of this,” Elliot said.
Most churches ended up hosting virtual services on Zoom or other streaming platforms. Missio Church did something unique. It opted not to do online gatherings, but instead to send out devotionals. Different elders of the church were responsible for checking in on various sections of the congregation.
This was sufficient for a time, but Missio Church was ready to get back to in-person as soon as possible.
In New York state, the term “essential” was thrown around everywhere.
“The church isn’t’ a place you go and you download information. The church it’s a living organism,” Elliot said. That belief drove the leadership team to push for a return to live services together.
Elliot said that many people have been very receptive and a blessing to most.
There are a few members who, because of health concerns, regretfully, choose not to attend.
“As people are vaccinated, as they have some protection against the virus that we can just engage in relationships like we did before,” Elliot said.
The church has come a long way. It can now fit over 100 people with social distancing.
Plus, Elliot and his daughter can start inviting more of their church family back comfortably.