Detroit Lakes area churches are temporarily suspending their in-house services and canceling or postponing other large group gatherings and special events in response to coronavirus concerns.

In an effort to keep their members engaged and connected over the coming weeks, some churches are offering alternative worship options such as video services (available to watch on their websites or YouTube channels), live-streamed services, services broadcast over local radio and TV stations, daily blogs, and other increased opportunities for at-home worship.

On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that events of 50 people or more not be held for about two months in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC recommended that those events instead be canceled, postponed or, when feasible, modified to be offered online.

Since then, President Donald Trump issued guidelines recommending avoidance of social gatherings of more than 10 people.

“While this certainly makes things a bit more difficult, it is best to take the necessary steps now to avoid the possibility of far more catastrophic consequences later,” wrote Lakes Area Vineyard Lead Pastor Troy Easton in a letter posted on the church’s website. Lakes Area Vineyard stopped hosting services on March 15, continuing through at least April 5.

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“We are not afraid, and we don’t believe there is any reason to panic or take drastic measures,” he added. “However, wisdom tells us to err on the side of caution … We are committed to doing our part to love and help protect people, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Similar closure timelines and compassionate sentiments are being shared on other local church websites, some of which are updated almost daily with new cancellations and other pertinent information.

Most of the bigger churches in town have already held their last in-house service for the time being and will remain closed for at least two weeks. Holy Rosary Catholic Church held two midweek masses — one Wednesday, March 18, and another on Thursday morning, March 19 — before closing until further notice.

The Detroit Lakes area is home to more than 30 churches, and all of them are handling the coronavirus crisis in their own unique ways, offering different services and programs to help their members stay connected and continue to worship. To find out what a particular church is offering, call that church or visit its website. Most are keeping their main offices — or at least phone lines — open during the closures, though hours may be reduced.

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