What it’s like to reopen a church

What it’s like to reopen a church

Pastors say initial sanitation and social distancing plans have to be regularly revised.

Very Rev. Martin Diaz prepares to offer communion to those attending Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
The Very Rev. Martin Diaz prepares to offer communion to those attending Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
 Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Rev. Leroy Davis wants his church to feel as safe as Costco. The service will hopefully be a little more personal, he said, but the environment should seem just as clean.

To accomplish this goal, the Rev. Davis and his deacons at Hopeful Baptist Church in Montpelier, Virginia, spent hours over the past month discussing how to sanitize the sanctuary and manage crowds before resuming in-person services last Sunday.

They purchased individually packaged communion elements, propped open doors, removed hymn books and Bibles from the pews and put X’s on the ground in the parking lot reminding people to spread out.

“We followed both jot and tittle of the governor’s requirements for reopening,” the Rev. Davis, who serves as Hopeful Baptist’s pastor, said.

All the prep paid off. The church upheld new social distancing rules while hosting around 70 worshippers last weekend, and leaders are now talking about how to increase capacity in the weeks ahead.


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