After watching Michigan IPL’s webinar on building Covid-safety, Second Baptist Church of Detroit upgraded their ventilation system and safely opened their church to in-person services. We spoke with Bruce Jordan, a former trustee who served on the church’s Covid Safety committee about how his church protected church-goers and staff from the risk of catching Covid indoors, and, in doing so, provided a gift to the church community.
We are showing the congregation how much we care for their health. Basically, we are looking out for our Christian brothers and sisters.”
- Bruce Jordan, Former Trustee, Second Baptist Church of Detroit
Pictured: Rev. Lawrence W. Rodgers welcomes a new member to Second Baptist Church of Detroit.
On the heels of the novel coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, the church immediately suspended in-person worship and formed a committee of two trustees, two deacons, and two doctors to discuss and plan next steps. “Our goal was to have no one contract COVID-19 because of being at the church,” explained Mr. Jordan, who served on the church’s COVID Safety Committee.
Acting swiftly to protect congregants and community members isn't new to Second Baptist, a historic church that opened in 1836 and served as a stop in the Underground Railroad to runaways, who escaping slavery, rested at the church before crossing the Detroit River into Canada.
“We benefited from Michigan IPL’s Covid-19 webinar because we found information about best practices that we couldn’t find anywhere else,” Bruce said. “We had been looking everywhere, from the CDC to Michigan’s online resources, and those were helpful, but the webinar spurred us into action because it showed us how to increase our ventilation and install air filters.”
After hiring a contractor to install the new ventilation system, Second Baptist increased the building’s airflow to 6 changes per hour utilizing recommended MERV-13 filters, which at the time, meant that there was a 1% chance of catching Covid if one infected congregant attended services. Rev. Rodgers of Second Baptist Church of Detroit spoke about the effectiveness of the new ventilation system and other safety measures like masking during services. "This upgrade has undoubtedly and literally saved the lives of many of our congregants as we have had in-person service for quite some time now. No one has reported a case of Covid since that time. We are definitely exercising care of Creation within the church as well as the community."
Bruce explained to us that the cost of the upgrades “took a backseat to our safety.” Through learning about the existence of the Detroit Covid Team in the webinar, Second Baptist Church continued to gather resources and were made aware of discounts they used to purchase new safety equipment. “I was pretty militant about these things. I thought ‘we can't cut corners. How would we feel if someone caught Covid and we could’ve prevented it?’”
Covid is still spreading in our communities and installing air filters is an effective measure to keep congregants safe. To continually replace stale air in a building requires increased energy costs, which is why Michigan IPL offers resources to houses of worship to help save on energy bills and get rebates for energy efficient projects.
When asked why Second Baptist Church felt it was worth it to make the big changes to their building and safety protocols, Bruce responded: “We were showing the congregation how much we cared for their health. Basically, we were looking out for our Christian brothers and sisters.”
Learn more about safer ventilation and filters:
- ASHRAE Technical Resources
- ASHRAE resources for faith communities
- Michigan IPL’s webinar on building Covid-safety
Resources for accessing rebates and contacting a contractor: