Nation - Word&Way



As Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to release plans for how religious institutions can reopen in California during the coronavirus pandemic, health officials announced that two church services that were held without authorization have been sources of outbreaks.

For the first time in two months, there was clapping, singing, and fellowship inside Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, Kentucky, as members of the congregation returned to the sanctuary for Sunday morning services on May 24. There also were masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday scrapped his 10-person limit on group gatherings and agreed to allow churches to open at 25% occupancy if certain safety guidelines are met. Walz announced the decision on the day when the state reported a record number of COVID-19 cases.

Massachusetts to reopen houses of worship as the country battles the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday (May 21). They have been allowed to restart services this week as long as they practice social distancing.

New York will allow small religious gatherings starting Thursday as the state gradually loosens pandemic restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Religious gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed statewide as long as participants wear masks and practice social distancing.

A church in Mississippi was destroyed by a suspected arson fire, about a month after its pastor filed a lawsuit challenging the city of Holly Springs on gathering restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday issued guidelines for churches and other places of worship to reopen for in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic, with an emphasis on keeping spaces clean and maintaining distance between people.

The head of the federal Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told Gov. Gavin Newsom May 19 that his plan to reopen California discriminates against churches. Eric S. Dreiband said Newsom should allow some in-person worship under the current second phase of his four-part reopening plan.

“Just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should," the Massachusetts Council of Churches said in a written statement.

The Oregon Supreme Court halted a rural judge’s order which had tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown in a case brought by churches arguing the Democrat exceeded her authority.