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Austin-area churches adjusting its services amid coronavirus outbreak

Some churches are streaming its services, while others are using "social distancing" to keep the sermons going.

Trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has changed how we greet each other, how we work and even how we attend church.

Typically on Sunday morning, Martin Middle School would be lined with vehicles belonging to members of The Well Church.  

Instead, members of the nondenominational church were forced to watch the sermon from home on March 15 after Austin ISD canceled large gatherings at the school. 

"We have created something called a guided gathering," said associate pastor Adam Watson. "In a guided gathering, we simulate what it would be like if everyone is in a living room together."

On Saturday, the City of Austin and Travis County banned gatherings of 250 people or more until at least May 1. However, the church said they won't let that stop them from spreading the word. 

"We are going to be having videos posted and materials available to download from our website," said The Well Church Executive Assistant Stephanie Thompson. "We are posting devotionals, curriculum or bible studies that families can go through together."  

Meanwhile, the Dioceses of Austin told KVUE their doors are open and they will continue to have mass and confessions at their Austin-Travis county churches. 

"You can have two priests celebrate mass at the same time, said Diocese of Austin Communications Director Christian Gonzalez. "You can have two different groups of 250."

“We also have some churches that can stream from the church to a second location," Gonzalez added

Gonzalez said they have parishes all over Central Texas. One church could have 1,000 members, so they are encouraging social distance.

"The biggest changes we have made are that we have asked people to receive communion in the hand rather the tongue," said Gonzalez.

Gonzales advised if you are not feeling well, stay home. 

 "It's OK to stay home," said Gonzalez. "It's not a sin to miss mass for these reasons."

Both churches encourage you to check on your neighbors, the elderly or anyone in need. 

Gonzalez said their Saint Vincent De Paul location needs toiletries and canned goods. 

"They also need things that have disappeared from the stores, hand sanitizers, toilet paper and all those types of things," said Gonzales.  "This is a time not to be over-anxious, the bible mentions numerous times to be not afraid and do not fear."

WATCH: Austin-area churches change how to give service amid coronavirus concerns


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