Deemed 'essential,' local churches staying cautious with plans to fully reopen

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Wichita area churches aren't rushing to fully reopen, despite getting the okay from state and federal government. Friday, President Donald Trump deemed church services essential. While local churches appreciate that support, they want to remain cautious with reopening plans.

“As a pastor, as a shepherd of souls, if one person got ill, and took that to somebody else who ultimately died – that’s on me. So we're taking this very seriously,” Reverend Jeff Gannon with Chapel Hill United Methodist Church said.

Some churches are still trying to decide a safe reopening date for them.

“One of the challenges of planning, in any scenario is that you have to have sort of basic information in order to make plans. And so consequently, in order to have a planned date of reopening, we would have to have the information that we don't have at this point.”, says Newspring Church Lead Pastor Mark Hoover.

The Altar Church has its eyes on welcoming its congregation back on May 31.

"(We'll) reopen on Pentecost Sunday, which is a week from Sunday on May 31, and we're excited," The Altar Church Pastor Marty Freeman says. "I don't think it's any accident you know, that's a great day to come back together. That's the birthday of the church, if you will."

For those not yet prepared to come back due to health concerns, local churches will also be continuing their live-streamed services.

The pastors say they understand the hesitation some may have. with looming health concerns.

"I trust God, but I still wash my hands," Gannon says. "I trust God, but I still wear a seat belt. I trust God, but I still take vitamins. We trust God as a community of faith, but we must do our part, and that means that we're going to do everything possible to keep people safe."