DANVILLE, Va. – Pastors in Danville and across the nation delivered sermons to empty pews as houses of worship adjust to the reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Danville, about 60 attended the morning service at First Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Interim pastor Steve Willis told the congregation that the order of service would skip communion and encouraged those in attendance to avoid shaking hands.

Rev. Willis said he expected this to be the last gathering of church members for the next several weeks. The church abruptly canceled a lay leaders’ renewal meeting that had been scheduled for the weekend, despite months of planning for the event.

Services were also held at First Baptist Church nearby while the morning service at Episcopal Church of the Epiphany was canceled by order of the Bishop.

Many religious institutions around the country streamed their services, while others asked congregations to keep their distances and limit physical contact. Religious institutions worldwide are altering worship, including the Vatican, which says Holy Week liturgical celebrations next month will not be open to the public. Spain is following suit on its measures and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus says believers should refrain from attending services for three weeks.

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