FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Beginning Saturday, select in-person religious services for permanent party service members on Fort Leonard Wood will resume while adhering to social-distancing protocols.
According to the Religious Support Office, families may sit together at the services and every other pew will be sectioned off to ensure a six-foot separation between those in attendance. Consolidated Initial Entry Training services will remain canceled until further notice.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Van Ness, the garrison chaplain, said for services that hold Communion, extra precautions will be taken.
“It’s definitely going to look like a different kind of chapel service, but those are the things we need to do,” he said. “When we do Communion, the pastor will have on gloves and a mask. There won’t be the wine and the chalice – the pastor will just put the bread into each individual’s hands. As they’re waiting in line to come up, there will be that six-foot separation.”
Van Ness said common areas will be sanitized between services and all attendees will need to bring their own face coverings as they will be required to wear one. Hand sanitizer will also be available at entrances. There will be no childcare or religious education services available.
“Ushers are going to play an important part,” Van Ness said. “When people come in, the ushers are going to seat them. The ushers will also dismiss them. That way, not everybody is leaving at the same time and getting bottlenecked there at the doors.”
For those who are still uncomfortable attending in-person worship but would like to be included, the RSO will continue live streaming one Catholic and one Protestant service each week, he said. Those services – 9 a.m. (Catholic) and 11 a.m. (Protestant) Sundays – can be accessed through the Fort Leonard Wood RSO Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodRSO.
“We’re still going to have the same (live stream) schedule as we do right now,” he said. “Even though they’re limited, we’re excited to be able to offer these opportunities for worship.”
Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Dorsey, 84th Chemical Battalion chaplain, leads the Catholic worship service. He said he looks forward to being reunited with his congregation.
“A lot of what church is about is community, and not being able to be together has been difficult but necessary,” he said. “We’re definitely being cautious as we resume services, but I’m very much looking forward to having people in the pews again, being able to connect at that level that’s just not quite possible over the internet. I’m very excited.”
The resuming service times for permanent party worship are:
— Catholic: 5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. Sundays at the Main Post Chapel.
— Gospel: 10 a.m. Sundays at the Central Iowa Chapel.
— Traditional: 11 a.m. Sundays at the Soldier Memorial Chapel.
— Crossroads: 11 a.m. Sundays at the Main Post Chapel.
Battalion field services will continue and information about other services will be announced as soon as it becomes available, Van Ness said.