By: Hope Dyson, Staff Writer

When the deadly Coronavirus pandemic hit the state of Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan mandated churches and other non-essential businesses to close its doors to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.  For many faithful Southern Maryland churchgoers, physically attending their church’s weekly services came to a halt.  However, many church leaders did not allow the Coronavirus pandemic to hinder them from preaching to their flock.  For the past several months, many church leaders held their weekly church and prayer services either online using social media platforms or by dialing into teleconferences.

Now with Governor Hogan’s recently released executive order which mandates churches and other non-essential businesses to operate only at fifty percent capacity, church leaders such as Bishop Rodney and Senior Pastor Cynthia Thompson, of To Tell The Truth Outreach and Deliverance Ministries, Inc. of Great Mills, Maryland, are thankful that they can open their church doors to conduct Sunday services from behind the sacred pulpit once again.  

Bishop Rodney Thompson, Sr. preaching from the pulpit to the congregation at 50% capacity

Upon opening their church doors, not only have the Thompson’s implemented the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s guidelines of practicing safe social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, and mandating congregational members and visitors to wear their face masks while in the church, but they have also implemented an additional safety precaution.  That safety measure is having an on-site licensed practical nurse to record the temperature of every individual who will be physically participating in the church services.  

Making safety against COVID-19 as one of their ministerial priorities, Bishop Thompson states, “Even though the [executive] order has been lifted to a certain degree, we still have to be wise in how we operate and interact with others.  With this global pandemic, we felt it was vital to have an onsite licensed practical nurse who will take every person’s temperature when they arrive.  If it is determined that a person has a fever, we will inform them of the temperature reading.  Although we have never and will never close our church doors to anyone, due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would advise the individual to see a doctor and that they are more than welcome to come back to our church when they are no longer displaying possible COVID-19 symptoms.  With that information, it is ultimately their decision if they get evaluated by a doctor.”  Senior Pastor Thompson states, “It is important to take safety measures when battling this deadly virus.  We all must continue to be vigilant in providing the safest environment when dealing with people on a day-to-day basis.  We have to remember that COVID-19 is still in our community.”  Bishop Thompson adds, “Due to that reason, for the continued safety of our elderly community and families with small children, we encourage them to continue to livestream our ministry’s weekly services from home.”

Tracy Epps, Licensed Practical Nurse, taking a temperature reading of Claude Gibbs, III prior to him entering the church sanctuary

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s website, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there have been 2,294 COVID-19 cases and 153 deaths reported for the Tri-County Southern Maryland region.

Hope Dyson

Hope M. Dyson is a proud native and country “gal” of good ol' St. Mary's County, Maryland. She considers it both a blessing and an honor to be a Southern Maryland Chronicle staff writer. For...