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CASA GRANDE — The congregation at CrossRoads Church won’t celebrate Father’s Day together this year.

Due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Pastor Tim Hill plans to keep the church closed, replacing the traditional in-person Father’s Day celebration with an online sermon. Communion and Father’s Day gifts will be distributed drive-thru style, with congregants remaining in their cars.

While the church had opened two weeks ago after restrictions were lifted, Hill said the recent surge in coronavirus cases has him worried. He’s closing the doors to the church again, this time voluntarily.

“A few weeks ago, I didn’t know anyone with COVID, now I know several,” he said. “At this point, everyone knows someone with it, and it’s spreading fast, so I’m pulling back on social gatherings.”

For Hill, who enjoys preaching on Sundays and addressing large crowds, the decision to close the church was difficult.

“I have to protect the CrossRoads family,” he said. “Our job as pastors is to protect our people. A shepherd’s job is to protect its flock. If the church congregation is faithful, they’ll stand behind the church.”

For Father’s Day, he’ll deliver a streamed sermon via the church Facebook page.

At First Presbyterian Church of Casa Grande, the doors will be open but seating limited, in keeping with social distancing guidelines, said Pastor Paul Elgin.

Fathers will be celebrated in church prayers and through preaching, he said.

“We are limiting our worship service to 50 people in our sanctuary, so members are asked to RSVP for how many seats they want,” Elgin said.

The church plans to leave four empty seats in between each congregation member and use every other row. Congregants will be required to wear face masks. Those who don’t have one will be issued one at the door.

“It’s been kind of like a puzzle, putting the right number of available seats for those who wish to attend,” Elgin said.

Singing will also be missing from the Father’s Day celebration at First Presbyterian.

“We don’t do any singing at either service right now, although we recorded a video of a soloist that we will show to the congregation,” Elgin said.

For those unable to attend, the sermon will be livestreamed on Facebook and posted on YouTube.

“We’ve gotten a lot more views than we thought we would, especially on Facebook,” Elgin said.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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