Reopening local churches

By Kayla Hawthorne -

POINT PLEASANT — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice released guidance last week on how businesses and entities can open their doors to the public safely.

This week is considered “week two” in the plan to open up the state, which is titled “West Virginia Strong: The Comeback.” During week two, small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor dining, religious entities and funeral homes, and barbershops, hair salons, pet grooming and other professional services regulated by the state Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists can open.

Chip Bennett, pastor at Bellemead United Methodist Church (UMC) and member of the Mason County Ministerial Association, said many of the members of religious entities do not know what they will do yet. Bennett said it was the “million dollar question” as to when church will open to in-person services.

Bennett said Bellemead UMC will have a meeting with some of its members to discuss how and when they will open the doors. Bennett expects to do this in phases, similar to how the governor is opening the state. He things this may be things like limited services and multiple services to reduce the number of people present at one time. Bennet also expects to not have children and youth ministries and activities for a while.

“We recognize that it may look different as things evolve,” Bennett said.

Bennett said Bellemead UMC joined with other churches in Point Pleasant to create “Point Pleasant United” to stream their services online. Bennett said there is no plans to stop steaming the sermons.

Bennett also said that although the governor of West Virginia will allow churches to open now, the UMC conference that Bellemead is in discourages churches from meeting before June.

“It’s been a very difficult time for everybody — and churches are included in that — on making decisions on how you continue to do your work, but still be safe and not put people at risk,” Bennett said.

Editor’s note: See story on state guidelines regarding reopening churches inside this edition and online at

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By Kayla Hawthorne

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.