Faith Community Church of the Nazarene in Ashland City holds in-person church services with enforced social distancing and mandatory masks for staff and the praise team as COVID-19 precautions.

Faith Community holds two Sunday worship services, with one at 9 a.m. and another at 10:30 a.m. Masks are highly recommended for attendees. The Sunday service, the weekly Wednesday night Bible Study and a children’s church service is livestreamed.

 “The blessing in the mask is that they enable us to meet with ultimatum protection, but they are a hindrance to personal warmth and closeness. The practical reality is that they are irritating to wear for many people,” Lead Pastor Shaun Sutton said.

Sutton said the safety precautions will be strictly followed until the threat of the virus is fully contained.

Pastor Kim McLean leads the music and the praise team for the church.

“For me, wearing the mask is ‘the Christian’ thing to do,” McLean said. “It is kind towards others because we know that this helps keep us safe. I believe that as Christians we are called to be leaders who exemplify love and service. But it is not a religious act to wear a mask; it is a humane one.”

Praise team member Nita Lamb has been a member of the church for many years and said she has adapted well to wearing a mask at church.

“Since I wear one routinely working in the hospital operating room, masks are not such an issue for me as they may be for others but then there are challenges of wearing a mask while singing as a member of the praise team,” Lamb said. “Besides the fact that it can restrict airflow, the challenge is to find a mask that fits well to your nose so your glasses don’t fog up so you can read the lyrics. Also, it must give your jaw enough room to move and still cover your mouth and nose.

“Since it has been shown that singing can spread potentially infectious particles and aerosol further than speaking, it is a blessing to know that by wearing a mask I am doing my part to protect others while being able to participate in corporate worship. There is great blessing in meeting together in the house of the Lord, but also in sharing our ministry with those online who are unable or uncomfortable to come in person.”

Other members of the praise team include drummer Jason Lester, Chad Lester, Michelle Black, Shelby Melhorn, Emily Butler and Jenny Lou Meier.

McLean said that there are challenges in leading worship by wearing a mask.

“The physical challenge is obvious, but it affects communication with the congregation,” she said. “I find myself trying to make up for my hidden smile by making sure my eyes are smiling, and I try to convey the passion of worship all the more with body language and maybe a little more intensity and enunciation in my singing. I also have to use vocal clarity to accommodate for the muffled sound created by the mask. I think of it like a jazz trumpet with a mute in the bell. Technique, a great mic, and an amazing sound guy and, voilá, we’re making it happen. I try to choose songs that don’t require huge breaths for belting out high notes.”

She recalled one week of leading the praise team when she took a deep breath and nearly inhaled her mask. But McLean, who is also an accomplished singer-songwriter, said that she sees blessings that are afforded by wearing the masks. 

“I think this is an amazing opportunity to realize that we were never on the platform to showcase,” she said. “We are there to lead worshippers by worshipping — truly worshipping. The mask is humbling. Vanity goes out the stained glass windows when you feel silly and can’t breathe. We are worshipping with one motivation, which is to bless the Lord. I love the determination it takes, as though it’s crucial that we sing. We could just cancel that part, you know? We could be playing recordings. But this is not about entertainment or warm up for the message. It’s about bringing the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.”

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