Jacksonville-area churches start to reopen, but you’ll need to reserve a spot

CHANGES FOR CHURCH SERVICE: Churches making online registry for attendance

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For many, this weekend will be the first time worshipping together in person since the pandemic started. But before you can attend some services, you need to sign up.

Many churches have held virtual services for several weeks. Now it’s time to restart the real thing while keeping people safe. At Journey Church in Jacksonville, you’re going to need to RSVP to worship in person.

“They have a list that they’ll look at. It’s almost comical to think of someone coming out and saying Eads party of six. Oh hey that’s us,” Rachal Eads said.

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Eads had to fill out a form online and let the church know how many people in her family will be attending. The church said there will be limited seating, and inside there’s plenty of space between each row.

“I feel very confident. They worked hard, they did the math, they moved all of the chairs around,” said Eads.

For the bigger churches, with congregations in the thousands, it’s hard to reopen right now.

“As we enter into phase two, we are considering our timeline for reopening, but we are not hurrying back," said John Wyatt, an executive pastor at Celebration Church. “We are working really hard. We have a great team assembled, and we are working really hard on our preparation to come back. But we are going to prioritize safety.”

Wyatt is part of the city’s task force for churches. They’re working together to create recommendations that will allow churches to resume services safely.

“We are going to get back to services as quick as we can because we love being together all in one place. But in the meantime, we are encouraging everyone to worship in their homes, gather with their families,” Wyatt said.

For Eads, going to church will be a little different, but she said it will be worth it.

“We can’t wait to get back into those doors,” she said.

The pastor of Journey Church said they will be sanitizing and cleaning the sanctuary between each service.