'They should not do it': Hoke County sheriff advises churches to avoid drive-in services, other forms of gatherings

RAEFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Hoke County Sheriff is reiterating the need for churches to avoid any sort of gathering, in light of leaders and members inquiring about drive-in service options.

Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said his phone has been ringing constantly with residents and churches asking if there are options for them to still congregate.

While understanding their frustration, the sheriff went to Facebook to advise churches and members to practice social distancing through online Sunday services.

Christopher Stackhouse is the pastor of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. In recent weeks, he's started offering his service online for his members.

Stackhouse says churchgoers staying away from each other is not in their DNA, "It is communal, so not being able to get together, has been as dramatic a shift as you can imagine".

The pastor said he was getting a lot of feedback from locals and leaders about other ways for them to meet, all things they were considering up until this week.

"I was looking at drive-thru's, I was looking at people staying in their cars, we were looking at creative ways to do communion," Stackhouse said.

All ideas he, along with other churches across Hoke County, brought to Sheriff Peterkin.
"It's hard not to hug, or touch, or do what you do when you go to church and fellowship," Peterkin said.

The sheriff said every church in the community is heeding his advice.

Pastor Stackhouse said places of worship need to be more understanding of the statewide order, so they can flatten the curve and get out of this pandemic.

"You can have faith that things are going to get better but wisdom to say 'the best thing for me to do is not meet right now,'" Stackhouse added.

The Baptist church will continue to meet online and plans to stream this Sunday's communion for everyone at home.

The sheriff encourages residents to continue to come forward with questions regarding social distancing and do's and don'ts.
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