Churches grapple with when and how to safely re-open

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) —Churches, synagogues, and mosques in Rhode Island are allowed to re-open their doors to parishioners on May 30, but only at 25% capacity.

However some places of worship are choosing to wait a bit longer before they re-open. St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Warwick is one of many places choosing to wait.

“We had a few [parishioners] who said, ‘They don’t have the right to tell me I can’t come to church,’” explained Pastor Scott Lee. “While I can respect that perspective, there is a good reason not to come to church right now.”

St. Barnabas will begin outdoor services in mid-June, taking every pre-caution they can to keep people safe.

Meanwhile the Diocese of Providence says public masses will resume on May 30.

Bishop Thomas Tobin outlined precautions the Diocese will take, including sectioning off pews to keep distance, limiting singing, and requiring parishioners to wear masks.

The Diocese plans to continue offering communion, though they encourage parishioners to receive it by hand rather than by mouth.

At St. Barnabas, Father Scott Lee is unsure what he will do about communion.

“I’m worried because it’s an intimate moment, but will it still be one if given from a distance?” he questioned. “We have to be very careful. We don’t want to do more harm than good,” Lee said.

Church leaders at St. Barnabas will continue discussing when and how to re-open safely. They’ve already decided to continue streaming sermons online and to do away with shared books like Bibles and Hymnals.

They will also offer hand sanitizer and disinfect the church after each sermon.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island