Some local churches weigh remote services as COVID cases rise

Emily Putnam
Updated: November 08, 2020 11:35 PM
Created: November 08, 2020 09:54 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— Amid a new spike in COVID cases, operations could soon be changing for local churches and other houses of worship. Churches were allowed to reopen to visitors over the summer when new daily case numbers were lower. 

But, as of Sunday, Monroe County set a new record for the highest number of new COVID cases at 256. 

The official guidance currently says churches and other houses of worship are allowed to operate at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing.  Rochester's Spiritus Christi Catholic church moved its services to the Hochstein School’s performance hall so churchgoers could spread out and maintain social distancing. They held an in-person service there Sunday morning where singers stood behind clear plastic barriers and parishioners sat several rows back from the stage. 

At Spiritus Christi, attendees are asked to register for the service ahead of time so organizers can predict how many people will be there. Temperatures are taken at the door. Although this system has worked for them for the last few months, Father Jim Callan says the church is prepared to transition back to online operations if need be.

“We are open to shutting down again if our health professionals tell us that. We have doctors and nurses and a whole team that advises us." said Callan "They told us when we could open, and if we have to close they'll tell us that too," 

Callan says his congregation has had luck with live streaming services. While there were about 60 people attending in-person, about 900 watched online. Streaming services have allowed the church to reach people all over the country and overseas. 

As of Sunday, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester is suspending in-person services, saying in a statement to its leaders: “We recommend transitioning from in-person worship to online or other forms of worship for the next four weeks in our Diocese."

"This virus is deadly, and it's real,” said Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh  “And we do recognize the propensity for community spread which is also real."

For the time being, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester will continue in-person and online services. 

News10NBC broadcasts Catholic mass on Sunday mornings at 5:30am, and it can be viewed here after it airs. 
 


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