Some Houses of Worship Hold In-Person Services, But Many Say They'll Wait
Some houses of worship held their first in-person services this week after the state lifted the COVID-19 closure order.
At the First Congregational Church of Rochester, the Rev. Colby Olson preached to a live gathering on Sunday on the church’s expansive front lawn.
Members brought their own chairs and sat at a distance, marked by orange dots spray-painted on the grass.
Olson said about 77 people came and wore their masks.
“Some people were far away,” he said. “There were a lot of little kids running in the background during the message, and everything. It was great. It was a lot of fun to be out there.”
Houses of worship that reopen must follow mandatory safety standards, such as limiting indoor capacity to 40 percent. Many remain closed, and some plan to wait for in-person services until the summer or fall.
Rabbi David Freelund, of Cape Cod Synagogue, wrote an op-ed in the Cape Cod Times explaining why he feels reopening is not yet safe. And the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has said it won’t hold gatherings until at least July 1.
Ramadan ended Saturday for Muslims, but many local congregations did not celebrate in a communal setting because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Martin Benz, outreach coordinator at the Islamic Society of Dartmouth, encouraged people to stay home and follow live-streamed prayers.
“This is not past yet, and we could easily infect — especially the most vulnerable, the elderly,” he said. “And we definitely don’t want to put anyone at risk at this time.”
Guidelines for religious gatherings could change in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which will not begin until at least June 8.