Places of worship plan for the future

Published: May. 24, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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Paces of worship are considered essential businesses in Dane County. While some are eager to welcome members back, not all are ready to open their doors just yet.

Catholic churches in the Diocese of Madison will start holding public mass the weekend of May 30, following the 25 percent capacity restriction. This marks the first time the Diocese will hold public mass in more than two months.

"Being without that for weeks has been very, very, very hard for so many people," said Brent King, director of communications for the Diocese of Madison. King added, "To get back to 25 percent is going to mean a lot for a lot of people."

The Diocese announced the change Friday. There are still several restrictions on public mass, including practicing social distancing and encouraging people to wear face masks.

"There won't be a choir singing, there won't be hymnals in the pews, there will be a lot of sanitation," King explained.

Services will still be available online for many parishes.

"Over 50 of our parishes are lives streaming," King said.

While the Diocese of Madison starts to reopen, some other places of worship are keeping their doors shut for a while longer.

"The most loving thing we could actually do would be to continue the way that we are meeting right now online," explained Matt Metzger, the lead pastor at Blackhawk Church downtown.

Blackhawk Church is remaining virtual for now to keep their 5,000 members as safe as possible.

"We're kind of taking our lead more from the time when athletic events, when crowds are starting to come back to those," Metzger said.

Temple Beth El is also closed to members. Staff will start returning to the office June 1.

"We are coming back to life again in a very slow and deliberate fashion," explained Temple Beth El Rabbi Jonathan Biatch.

Biatch added that many synagogue members are elderly, so they are being extra careful.

"They can't come and we wouldn't want them to come because it would be risky for their health," Biatch said.

Though some doors are staying closed, religious leaders like Biatch and Metzger are working to keep people connected online.

"The building is closed, but the church is not closed, the church is people," Metzger said.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is also keeping worship online only for the foreseeable future. The church is also keeping its buildings and grounds closed, with the exception of their food pantries.

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