The Summit Church: One Church During COVID-19

The Summit Church Capital Hills Campus, located on Capital Boulevard, along with other churches, has changed plans dramatically. Outdoor events and virtual services have replaced regular gatherings. (Photo Courtesy of Ellie Thompson)

The Summit Church is a multi-locational church based in RDU. There are twelve campuses across the triangle, from Alamance to Garner, ministries in the men’s and the women’s Wake correctional facilities, and a Summit en Español campus. 

Their mission statement summarizes the church’s view: “Following the Holy Spirit, we exist to create a movement of disciple-making disciples, in Raleigh-Durham and around the world,” said J.D. Greear, lead pastor.

TSC held its first virtual service on March 22 and has chosen to refrain from in-person gatherings until the end of the year. “Because the nature of what we do is high contact and [we have] kids [services], we knew it was particularly high risk,” said Greear. 

Currently, they stream a prerecorded service throughout the week — Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 6 p.m., and Wednesday at 7 p.m. The service is available on Facebook, Youtube, and their streaming site. “Our online presence is strong, and it would be better to meet in homes,” said Greear. “[Instead of] kicking the can down three or four weeks… [we chose to] pour all of our energy into the home strategy.”

With COVID-19 precautions in place, large services are not possible, nor would they be safe. Instead of hundreds gathering in the church building on the weekends, The Summit is encouraging “home gatherings,” or small groups of people/families meeting in houses. Families would volunteer to host these gatherings as a way to foster community along with abiding by the governor’s recommendations.

Interestingly, churches are exempt from a strict person count limit in Executive Order 141. This order states that no more than ten people should gather together inside, and no more than twenty-five outside. However, “Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from all the requirements of this Executive Order,” stated Roy Cooper. “We’re trying to honor [the Order] even though we don’t have to strictly abide by it,” said Greear.

In addition, TSC is hosting a few outdoor socially distant gatherings, such as tailgates for families, movie nights for students, or campus prayer nights. They are continuing to meet in as many ways as they can.  

“For a church, not gathering is not an option,” said Greear.


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