Bloomfield, Aztec churches won't hold Thanksgiving services; Christmas Eve plans up in the air

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Bloomfield's Ten Commandments monument is pictured on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 at Bloomfield First Baptist Church.

FARMINGTON — A pair of Baptist churches in San Juan County do not plan to hold Thanksgiving services this year, and they're also unsure what the outlook for Christmas Eve will be.

They and other houses of worship across the state, and across many denominations, have struggled to hold worship services that comply with shifting public health orders.

First Baptist Church of Bloomfield does not plan to hold limited-capacity church services on Thanksgiving amid the latest COVID-19 restrictions. First Baptist Church Aztec will also be closed on Thanksgiving.

While the latest version of the governor's health order doesn't slam the door shut on in-person worship, it also doesn't open it very wide.

MORE:New Mexico shelter-in-place order issued to mitigate coronavirus spread

Under the state’s latest public health order, which lasts through Nov. 30, maximum capacity for houses of worship are limited to 25% capacity or 75 people, whichever is the lesser of the two.

Even so, FBC Executive Pastor Joel Gunn said he didn’t think the church could make it work out "from the get-go."

“It’s tough, it’s different. … We’ll make it through,” Gunn said.

Bible studies via Zoom in Aztec

Katie Kovacs, a volunteer worker at First Baptist Church, Aztec, said FBC Aztec is unsure whether Christmas Eve services will take place this year amid the state’s public health order, but the church will continue its Bible studies via Zoom on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Kovacs also said its Sunday services, which have been held at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at 25% capacity, and Tuesday prayer sessions will resume.

“We still wanted to stay open and be safe,” Kovacs said.

MORE:Farmington church presents holiday meal kits to more than 100 families

A 2020 reality: Cameras go to church

Gunn said FBC Bloomfield is currently live-streaming services and already has prerecorded Bible studies one can listen to on its Facebook page, plus YouTube and Vimeo.

Gunn said he will keep monitoring what COVID-19 case counts look like to better determine whether there’s a chance FBC may be able to do socially-distanced Christmas Eve services within the capacity limitations.

Gunn also said FBC will look at potentially doing more service recordings, depending on what the state allows.

“If we have to revisit that, we’ll definitely do that,” Gunn said.

The Daily Times also reached out to several other churches, but phone calls were not returned before deadline.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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