With the Delta variant causing COVID-19 numbers to rise in Hopkins County, Christ the King Catholic Church is getting creative to keep members safe.
Father Carl McCarthy, pastor at CTK, said beginning Sunday the church’s 10:30 a.m. mass will be moved outside to the picnic pavilion behind the school.
“Offering this alternative is for those who do not feel comfortable being inside and worshiping,” he said.
Church members will be familiar with the pavilion because the church picnic is held there every year, he said. The church has removed the traditional picnic tables to make room for chairs and bleachers.
McCarthy said the school has an altar and lectern they sometimes use when students cannot make it to the church for mass, and those will be moved under the pavilion as well.
“It is a good-sized space, and there will be some shade,” he said.
The 10:30 a.m. mass is the only one that will be moved outside, weather permitting, so the 4:30 p.m. mass on Saturday and the one at 8 a.m. on Sunday will continue to be inside the church, he said.
“If the weather is inclement, if there is rain or if it is 100 degrees or a typical summer day here, then we would move that back inside the church,” said McCarthy.
Having mass outside will not be permanent. The church will reevaluate and decide if outside mass will continue Labor Day.
McCarthy said they are doing their best to follow the directives put forth by the state and from their Bishop’s office.
“My leadership team, we want to offer anyway we can for people to come in to worship with us,” he said.
While this is the first time mass has been offered outside specifically because of COVID-19, McCarthy pointed out that even Jesus Christ preached and taught outside.
“The Sea of Galilee, the Sermon on the Mount, the Feeding of the 5,000,” said McCarthy. “All of those pieces were outdoors in the open air.”
Along with offering a mass outside, the church has partnered with the Hopkins County Health Department to offer a vaccine clinic on Sunday, Aug. 29. The mobile clinic will be in the parking lot at the school from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
McCarthy said the goal is to reach people as they are leaving and coming to mass on Sunday.
“The greatest gift right now is that we are open,” said McCarthy.
As an extra precaution, the church is asking its members, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask when indoors for a meeting, in the school building, or the church.