MEMPHIS, Tenn.– For first time in almost two years, a Memphis church has returned to having in-person services. Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church welcomed parishioners back on Sunday with strict COVID protocols in place.

To understand Mississippi Boulevard’s praise, you have to know what they’ve been through to get here.

Since the beginning of the pandemic they have been operating virtually, in effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That all changed Sunday when they opened their doors at limited capacity – following a decline in cases.

Rev. J Lawrence Turner said they felt comfortable reopening since 90% of their members are vaccinated and because of the precautions they put in place.

They required masks, negative COVID tests from volunteers and they took temperatures. Attendees also have to register online before attending services.

“We haven’t had the privilege of worshiping together, having funeral together, taking part in weddings — you name what happens in normally in life of a church and we haven’t been able to do it,” Turner said. “We’re gonna continue to be who God has called us so as live in this new reality. As the world has changed we’re going to make sure we pivot along with it but make sure we remain true to our mission.”

Mississippi Boulevard’s reopening comes at time where the Omicron Variant is beginning to spread across the country.

Although there are no confirmed cases in Tennessee, Turner says they are closely monitoring these developments.

“We’re gonna continue to watch the development of the pandemic, with the Omicron Variant and govern ourselves accordingly, and if it indicates to our research and public health officials that we need to take certain precautions, we will do that,” he said.

Turner said they plan on remaining open for the foreseeable future.