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Churches leaders cautious on reopening

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 19:50:28-04

Phase one of the of reopening in Montana allows for church services, but many chose not to hold live worship on Sunday.

Emmanuel Baptist Church decided to go with an online service this week.

"We wanted to do everything we could to make sure that it was a safe, healthy, social distancing environment," said Pastor Paul Jones, Emmanuel's lead Pastor. "We just felt it was best for us if we waited one more week."

Some Catholic churches reopened, but many stayed closed.

"I provided a memo to my pastors and told them it was going to be their call when to open their churches to public worship," said Bishop Michael Warfel of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.

Warfel and Jones talked about what it takes to reopen.

"We want to be able to disinfect everything between each service, get bulletins to people and receive offerings without human contact," Jones said. "We want to have a family friendly place for those who have children because we don't have children's programs yet."

"There are requirements that are necessary such as the physical spacing," Warfel said. "I want to make sure we have some hospitality ministers, basically people who would manage and remind people of the spacing requirements and the hygiene requirements. I would like to have the various sanitizers at all the entrances. And people would certainly encourage to wear masks."

A lot of churches still have their sermons and services and messages online and may continue to do this when they have in-person live services next weekend.

"We want to provide something for everybody so everybody can worship at their own comfort level," Jones said.

And they talked about their messages this week.

"This isn't the first time where there's been a struggle with trying to actively be present with at church and worship," Warfel said. "Whether we're celebrating it at mass or whether we're celebrating it at home with a family, Christ is still risen and has an impact in our lives."

"We are the church whether we're gathered together in the building or we're scattered throughout the community," Jones said.

"Our people have done such a great job of reaching out to the community," Jones said. "We can touch our community even if we don't have worship on Sunday. We have God's word that meets all of our needs according to His riches and glory no matter what our circumstances are."

Bishop Warfel celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination at a live mass at St Ann's Cathedral in Great Falls Sunday morning.

Pastor Jones said his plan is still to livestream the services, so people at home can worship at the same time as people in the church.