Reid Temple in Glenn Dale, Maryland, last held an in-person service March 14, 2020. But now, the megachurch has reopened its doors for in-person service.
Masks were required and every other pew was vacant, but Rev. Mark Whitlock, Jr., said it felt great to see members in-person after 16 months.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Whitlock said.
The church’s services have been virtual since it closed its doors in March 2020, and Whitlock said there were challenges
“It was learning on the curb, because at the end of the day we still have to run a megachurch and if we’re not meeting the needs of the people, we just will reduce in size,” he said.
Whitlock said the decision to reopen was made around four weeks ago, because the case numbers were trending downward. With the emergence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the church will revert to virtual service if needed.
“Let me be clear: If there continues to be a loss of life, if it continues to get larger, if people fail to social distance and wear masks, we will have to close the doors again — safety first,” Whitlock said.
He said they will continue to follow the science and that the congregation is pushing members to encourage everyone they know to get vaccinated.
“We are encouraging our congregation to motivate, stimulate — even if you have to — irritate people to get vaccinated,” Whitlock said.
In partnership with Luminis Health, the megachurch has vaccinated over 20,000 people. The church will also have a vaccine hesitancy conference on Aug. 14.
Whitlock said the best they can do is “continue to preach about it.”