ST. CLOUD -- As central Minnesota and the nation face increasing uncertainty over the spread of COVID-19, one area church has modified the way they worship and keep in touch with one another.

Darin Seaman, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud, says all in-person worship, Bible studies and small and large group activities have been suspended through April 12. This Sunday, the congregation will gather online for services.

"This is not something that we take lightly," Seaman said. "We're meeting online via social media for at least a couple of meetings. We'll be doing online worship this weekend, and in future weeks as well."

Seaman says the congregation as a whole is taking the novel coronavirus very seriously by promoting social distancing - which is a challenge for the tight-knit community.

"We're people who are committed to each other," he said. "We're trying to love one another, and doing that at a distance is not always easy for us."

Seaman says a major concern has been keeping younger, healthier members from passing the virus to anyone older or at risk for serious complications.

"Our older population is the group we're really paying attention to," he explained. "We have people in nursing facilities. Right now, we have a person in the hospital, and I can't connect with them other than through the chaplain. That's been a real challenge."

Seaman says the congregation is continuing to be mutually supportive.

"We're speaking on the phone a lot to one another," he said. "It's not the same as being there in person, but it can and will work. It's a different time for us, and I think it is for everyone."

To learn more about First Presbyterian Church, visit their website.

Earlier this week, the Diocese of St. Cloud suspended all masses and other activities through Easter Monday.

There were 12 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota Thursday, bringing the state total to 89.

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