“The scriptures teach us to not look after your own interest, but that of others,” said Canyonlands Fellowship Church Pastor Geoff Thomas. “It’s with that attitude that we have tried to gather as a church and maintain our relationship as the body of Christ.”
Thomas’s church now meets Sunday mornings at the Old Spanish Trail Arena (3641 S. Hwy 191). Congregants wear masks and stay in their own household units 6 feet apart from others during worship, and hand sanitizer is available and encouraged.
In the time of coronavirus, this is how many communities of faith are keeping, as Thomas put it, “unity, six feet apart, together” during the ongoing pandemic.
Canyonlands Fellowship, Thomas said, has been in Moab for about a decade and is a “mobile church,” meaning it does not own a building. The church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist denomination, but, Thomas said, “it has a non-denominational feel to it.”
Previously, it was renting space at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, but the pandemic led the city to close that space.
“We had to find alternative means of worshiping together,” Thomas said.
The pandemic also led to the cancellation of events at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. Thomas said the venue has “worked out really well” and allows for worship services that are in-person yet socially distanced – and can accommodate a larger number of people while still adhering to the Utah guidelines of maintaining six feet between family groups.
While it may seem unconventional, moving his church into an arena doesn’t faze Thomas.
“Church is not a place,” he said, adding, “We feel blessed to have this indoor space available to us.”
Services are also live-streamed on the church’s website and broadcast on local radio station KCYN, so those who are ill or prefer not to attend in person can still tune in.
“I am proud of the steps the church has taken,” Thomas said.
Thomas said a lot of his focus with his church community lately has been on understanding and processing the difficult issues facing the country, including the pandemic and racial tension. Thomas said the “whole message for August” revolves around the question, “How do we respond appropriately in the unity that is spoken of, is taught of, in the biblical worldview?”
Thomas said the key is responding with compassion and empathy.
“Consider the other person who is feeling the sting and the grief of the moment of our day,” he said.
Thomas said services at the Old Spanish Trail Arena have been drawing about 50 to 60 people and more could be accommodated.
Thomas acknowledged that many people have been feeling isolated during the pandemic, and said it’s a priority for him to check in with members and visitors regularly, “just to make sure that they understand that they are still connected, and there are still people who consider them on a regular basis.”
For more information, visit canyonlandsfellowship.com or the Canyonlands Fellowship Church Facebook page. Thomas may be reached at 435-260-2434.
Canyonlands Fellowship holds services at Old Spanish Trail Area
“We had to find alternative means of worshiping together.”
– Geoff Thomas
When: Sundays at 11 a.m.
Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena (3641 S. Hwy 191)
Contact: 435-260-2434, canyonlandsfellowship.com