Faith Leaders React to Governor's New ‘Places of Worship' Guidelines

Places of worship will be allowed to have larger gatherings but not all say they will completely reopen.

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Faith leaders from around at the state joined Gov. Ned Lamont, Friday as he announced new guidelines for places of prayer.

While houses of worship were not subject to being closed due to the pandemic, the governor issued an executive order in March to add religious gatherings to the list of places that were limited to having more than 50 people.

Several houses of worship have been offering services outside and/or live-streaming amid the pandemic and they are planning for what comes next.

As religious facilities open, restrictions will be in place to limit occupancy to no more than 25 percent of capacity indoors, or fewer than 100 people, whichever is lower. Up to 150 people will be permitted outside.

“I think it makes sense.  We’ll get back to perhaps what was,” said Lindsay Curtis of Grace Baptist Church in Norwalk.

For several months, churches, synagogues, mosques and others religious sanctuaries have organized plans for reopening, addressing a broad range of issues.

“We’re concerned about communion. We’re concerned about baptism and how do we do that and not to spread the coronavirus,” explained Curtis.

While the governor’s new guidelines were met with gratitude from faith leaders, some say they will remain conservative and will not reopen just yet.

“Let us be perfectly clear. These guidelines will not eradicate virus. It will just lessen the chance for someone to contract it.” said Pastor Kelcy Steele of Varick Memorial Church in New Haven.

Many of the faith leaders who spoke said they will continue doing virtual services. They say it is to serve the older members of the congregation who are still urged to stay home.

Faith Leaders Also Address Growing Social Concerns

During the news conference some faith leaders addressed another issue.

“There’s another virus that is plaguing the faith community and while we’re gathered I feel like talking about that and that’s racism,” said Steele.

Prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests have been held around the country, some which have been violent. Here in Connecticut faith leaders are voicing their concerns.

“We are in some perilous times. Doubly so, with this pandemic but also the resurgence of racism,” added Curtis.

Friday the governor said he has seen the images of what’s transpired in Minnesota. Addressing the faith leaders he said, “It requires each and every one of us to stand up and remind us every day what it means to be all of a common humanity.”

At a rally in Hartford, residents are calling for justice in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis
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