Churches prepare for Good Friday amid pandemic for a second year

Patrick Moussignac
Created: April 01, 2021 06:40 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Starting Thursday night many Houses of Worship throughout our area will begin celebrating Good Friday leading up to Easter Sunday celebrations. Just like last year the pandemic is playing a major role in who will open their doors for the faithful.

News10NBC checked with several Christian Churches on their plans during their holiest time of year. One thing is for sure holiday services will carry on, but the form may vary depending on your church.

With COVID safety guidelines still in effect, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has decided to have in-person Mass with a 50% limit capacity, or roughly 250 people. St. Joseph's Church in Penfield will not only utilize their gathering space but will also open their learning center so more people can watch services on TV monitors. 

Fr. Jim Schwartz says anyone who plans to attend Mass this weekend must first reserve their seats in the church, and tickets are going fast.

"Family members can bring as many as they wish, and in some ways, it's great when they come together as a family because they can sit next to each other in a pew rather than if they were not family members," Schwartz said.

Other churches are maintaining "virtual-only" worship services. Asbury First United Methodist Church Rev. Steven Cady says just like last year the services will be live-streamed.

"Obviously in person is the way that we would prefer to do it, but recognizing that these are services in particular where it would be really hard to exclude some, and so we want to find a way where all of us could experience it in the same way," Cady said.

Even with the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, some churches just can't take the chance of letting large crowds gather inside this weekend.

"Yes, some people here have been vaccinated, but most of Monroe County has not been," Rev. Shari Halliday-Quan, Lead Minister at First Unitarian Church of Rochester said. "None of our children have been. I can't imagine a church where children aren't included, where most of Rochester isn't able to come safely."

The best way to find out what your House of Worship is doing this weekend is by visiting their website or simply calling to get that information.

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