West Hartford

Capacity Limits Lifted for Places of Worship, Churches in Conn.

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Places of worship and churches are now able to operate at 100% capacity after Governor Ned Lamont decided to lift some restrictions inside the state.

Sunday marks the start that churches are able to operate at full capacity after a year of restrictions.

Cautious and gracious is the new approach for Farmington Avenue Baptist Church after making constant adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been a difficult year especially not knowing what's going to happen each week," said Senior Pastor Jeremy Sweatt. "We've had to take our services online and still provide a spiritual outlet for our members."

Some of the adjustments the church has made include spacing out chairs, setting up hand sanitizer stations, putting up signage, eliminating collecting offering plates, and even shortening services.

"Little by little folks who have not been are feeling more comfortable, but it's just giving people the time and being understanding," said Pastor Sweatt.

On Friday, places of worship began operating with the option of having full capacity services and on Sunday, churches had their chance.

Despite the new option, some churches are putting their reopening plans on hold.

"Our thing is it does not make sense for us to reopen at this time," said Reverand Steven Cousin of Bethel A.M.E. Church. "We're still in this massive campaign about getting more people vaccinated and want our members to know it's important to get the shot."

Other places of worship are still putting together their game plan but know they can still stream services online in the meantime.

"We are working together and coming up with a good COVID-19 protocol as related to the C.D.C. guidelines," said Reverend Kelcy Steele, of Varick Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church.

Back at Farmington Avenue Baptist Church, they're hoping to see more members return as more people get vaccinated.

"We're still a long way from normal whatever that's going to be, but we're excited to join and gather on Sunday morning," said Pastor Sweatt. "We are glad to know that we can turn our eyes toward spiritual things and it's really refreshing to do so and really important for people's souls," said Josh Sparkman, a member at Farmington Avenue Baptist Church.

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