Local churches hold off on services despite being allowed to reopen

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Churches are a place for interacting, but coronavirus has changed the way people worship.

“Handshaking, dapping, hugging, holy kisses, yes, we are a very loving congregation,” Patrice Newton with New Life Baptist Church said. “This is going to be very difficult for us because we are used to hugging and embracing one another so that is going to be very different.”

Shawnee County Health Officer Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino told KSNT News that churches are no more of a concern to him than retail stores and restaurants.

“I’m not more concerned about churches than I am about all the other places where people congregate,” Dr. Pezzino said. “Again I think if people follow the precautions and limitations to mass gatherings at a six-foot distance that have been recommended.”

While churches are allowed to reopen this week, some churches like New Life are waiting so that they can make sure its members are safe.

“We’re putting together staff that will be responsible for wiping down doorknobs, light switches, pianos microphones,” Newton said.

New Life is opening back up on June 7. But its return to affection is still up in the air.

“This is not the time for hugs yet, we are all hug deprived, I know that. We are all craving hugs. Not quite yet,” Dr. Pezzino said.

Father Greg Hammes of Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka told KSNT News that local Catholic priests are meeting with Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla on Thursday before they come to a decision about whether to have services this weekend.

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