Hundreds attended two services under a large new tent at Rolling Hills Covenant Church on Sunday, the first in-person services at the church since March.
Since in-door church services are not allowed under state guidelines due to COVID-19, the church raised $300,000 for a new tent and equipment, from sound to lighting, to support the services, said interim senior pastor Sam Evans last week. In past years, the church had rented a tent for Easter services, but he said purchasing the tent and equipment will save money in the long run.
Not being able to meet face-to-face has been the challenging part, Evans said last week, from a “Christian perspective,” during the novel coronavirus pandemic
“We believe God designed people for fellowship,” Evans said. “We need one another. It's the isolation, it’s not being able to get together and enjoy fellowship.”
More than 600 were in attendance for its two Sunday services.
The church’s new tent can hold 2,000 people, Evans said, but because of social distancing guidelines, they will seat approximately 500 for each service, depending on how many register.
Attendees registered ahead of the services on the church’s website, but the registration closed at around 480 sign-ups to allow for people who did not register. Masks were required during the service and anywhere on the church campus.
Families were seated together to limit contact with other attendees — though the service did invite worshipers to say hello to their neighbors from their seats, maintaining at least six feet of distance. The tent included multiple lines to check in and when the services concluded; worshipers were dismissed by row.
There were no offering plates or baskets passed around, but attendees were able to make donations digitally through the church’s new app.
“We wanted to be in compliance with government regulations and we wanted our people to be safe,” said Evans.
The services were steamed live online for those unable to attend, and will be posted on the church’s website and social media feeds.
According to a Health Officer Order, attending in-person services at churches are approved if outdoors and faith-based organizations must follow Department of Public Health Place of Worship Protocols mandated by Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
“There is no maximum attendance for faith-based services that are held outdoors, provided that the attendees have enough space to observe strict Social (Physical) Distancing, including a minimum of six feet between attendees from different households, and are wearing cloth face coverings,” according to the order.
Evans said while the church has been closed for in-door services, the church has been active online and with blood and food drives and delivering food and other supplies like diapers for families in need. They have been manning the phones, helping those congregants with physical and spiritual needs, dropping off supplies or even giving them transportation to doctor appointments.
“It's really about coming together and meeting the needs of our people,” Evans said.
Rolling Hills Covenant Church is located at 2222 Palos Verdes Drive North in Rolling Hills Estates.
For more information about the services, visit rollinghillscovenant.com.
Hunter Lee contributed to this story