If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world anything, it is how to think outside of the box. Providence Presbyterian Church is one of many churches that have done that successfully.

In March 2020, the Hilton Head Island church closed its sanctuary and began livestreaming its services. Three months later the church reopened its in-person service with a maximum of 75 worshippers, continued to stream the service online and added an outdoor service in the church’s shaded fellowship park. Church members met on Zoom for Bible studies.

“There are some good things that have come out of this pandemic,” the Rev. Dr. William Ward said. “I think we as a church have found ways to reach out in mission more and have found ways to connect with members of our congregation in ways that we probably wouldn’t have done before. It has made the church even stronger, which is great.”

Over the past six months, Providence has gradually opened back up, but the staff is prepared to pivot again at any moment. Over the summer, Providence began hosting weekly cookouts. “We’re blessed to have a nice pavilion,” Ward said. “Folks really appreciated that. They were ready — we started this in the beginning of June — to be back together with people and socialize and be in fellowship and break bread together.”

Instead of the traditional weeklong Vacation Bible School, the church hosted a weekly VBS on the same nights as their cookouts. The congregation would meet for dinner, then the children would attend a mini-VBS while the adults participated in a Bible study on the Gospel of Mark.

The church will resume its “Providence on Wednesday” program starting Sept 15. It was put on hold last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Ward is looking forward to getting the program going again. Children will gather for music, Bible study and fun, while the adults attend choir practice and/or a Bible study.

The church will also offer English as a Second Language classes on Wednesday nights. Providence on Wednesday will conclude with dinner for everyone.

Providence also wants to restart its small-group ministry in the fall, when the congregation will study the Lord’s Prayer.

Of course, all the church’s plans will depend on what is happening with the pandemic. Ward is keeping a close eye on the local numbers and praying for the best. Thankfully, he feels the church is much more prepared for a pandemic now than they were last year.

The church’s outdoor worship services started because of COVID-19 but have been so popular that they will likely remain for a long time to come.

“I think it’s just been a good thing for our church,” he said. “We live on Hilton Head. We probably should’ve thought of that before the pandemic.”

Providence Presbyterian Church is located at 171 Cordillo Parkway on Hilton Head Island. The church offers an outdoor worship service at 8:30 a.m. and a 10:30 a.m. service in the sanctuary. Both services are streamed live. Hand sanitizer and masks are available. For more information about the church, visit providencehhi.org or call 843-842-5673.