Some churches choosing to remain closed, even with limited worship allowed

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Limited Religious Service will be allowed for the first time Sunday, but some places are remaining closed, as they craft safety plans and think about how to chose who is allowed in.

Online worship services and Sunday school are the new normal for church goers at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

The doors at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church will remained closed Sunday, that’s because leaders say they first need a plan of who they will let in and what safety measure they will follow.

“It has changed from a in person ministry to a virtual ministry,” said Pastor Ricky Harvey, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced state-wide religious services of up to 10 people will be allowed, but Pastor Harvey says keeping services online is the best way to reach the 600 members of the church and when they do return, masks, gloves, and temperature checks will be required.

“We couldn’t even began to think of a 10 person type service. I have more ushers than 10,” said Harvey. “I have a team of people who are working that have been working on it for a while now and as time permits and when we feel the time is right, we’ll go back into the building.”

The CDC has guidelines for churches who are considering reopening, including face coverings, periodic disinfecting, social distancing, and limited touching of surfaces.

In Clifton springs, Father Peter Van Lieshout of St. Peter’s Parish is coming up with a plan for this before he opens.

“There’s going to to be thing like spreading out in the church and there’ll be designated areas, so nobody’s sitting next to each other,”said Father Peter Van Lieshout, St. Peter’s Parish.

While his doors will stay closed for now, he is trying to come up with a way to pick 10 people for limited worship fairly.

“We’d have kinda get those names put a list together and find a way of making sure that happens fairly,” said Van Lieshout. “I’d say there’ll be probably very few that start tomorrow specifically because we’re waiting for the bishops guidelines to come out.”

Both houses of worship will continue their online services, which they say have allowed them to continue to build community in these tough times.

Religious gatherings were something saved for Phase 4 of New York’s reopening.

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