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Texas pastor puts church members’ faces on pews: ‘Little church with a big heart’

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A Huntsville, Texas, pastor paid a "touching" tribute to his 1,500 church members who can no longer meet in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel Irving, the pastor of First United Methodist Church, got the unique idea from a church member after he mentioned to his online audience how strange it was preaching to an empty church.

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"It was really weird," Irving told Fox News. "It was just pews out there. You don't know where to look, and I made a comment about it during the livestream."

Daniel Irving, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas, taped pictures of his members to the pews as his congregation is forced to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel Irving, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas, taped pictures of his members to the pews as his congregation is forced to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Julia Jordan, Refined Solutions / Courtesy of Daniel Irving)

A member reached out to the pastor on Facebook and told him about a priest who put the pictures of his parishioners in the pews, so Irving tried the same thing at his church.

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After seeing what he'd done, parishioner Rhonda Carpenter reached out to Fox News about what it meant to her.

"It seems like such a simple thing," Carpenter said, "but [Irving] took the time and made the effort to print all these pictures out and tape them to the pews and I think that shows just what a loving and caring church family we are."

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The 37-year-old pastor used a special kind of tape to put up the 200 photos from the church directory, which had just been completed. He jokes that when a picture falls, it's like someone is falling asleep during his sermon, which he adds, doesn't happen — to his knowledge.

At First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas, the pastor taped pictures of his members to the pews amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas, the pastor taped pictures of his members to the pews amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Julia Jordan, Refined Solutions / Courtesy of Daniel Irving)

"It gave us the opportunity to remember our folks, praying for them, to recognize even though we're not in the physical building, we're worshipping together," he said.

Their pastoral team also has been using that directory to reach out to members and see how they're doing.

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The sanctuary was built in the wake of the Spanish flu and the church is in a community with a growing number of cases, especially for many members who are essential in the prison system.

"We know we'll get through this and that God has great things in store for the church, our nation, and the world," Irving said.