JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville church on Sunday remembered a difficult year among its congregation during the coronavirus pandemic.
The congregation at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church gathered Sunday -- a year after numerous church members experienced symptoms of COVID-19, possibly months before Florida reported its first cases.
“It was about as sick as I’ve ever been. I was infected here at the church. There were a number of us that had been infected early on -- February, first week of March,” said Minister of Music and Worship Tommy Shapard. “So we’re also taking time to recognize that, as well, this morning.”
Sunday gave the congregation a chance to memorialize what has been a very trying year.
“Remembering the lives that have been lost, also continuing to pray for those that have been grieving, those that suffer long-term effects of the virus, as well as those struggling with personal events and other things,” Shapard said.
For more elderly members of the congregation, the past few months have been freeing. They said vaccinations have given them the confidence to return to church.
Former longtime City Councilman Lad Daniels said he’s relieved to have recovered from COVID-19 and return to some semblance of life.
“I’m very optimistic about humankind as we come out of this,” Daniels said. “We’re rediscovering that our presence with others is very very important.”
Now the ministry is renewed. Hendricks Avenue Baptist is no longer solely virtual a year after one of the most trying times the church has ever faced.
The church still had to conduct business over the past year. The church recently hired a new pastor, and interviews during the hiring process with the congregation were done virtually.