Governor's clarification opens door to more in-person church services

Posted at 7:20 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 23:51:51-04

This week Gov. Greg Abbott and Atty. General Ken Paxton clarified houses of worship are considered essential. The two issued guidelines Tuesday that encouraged pastors to have a plan in place for when churches can reopen to larger groups.

The lawmakers still are recommending that churches offer remote services -- if they can. If not, pastors can open their church's doors when they’re ready. Therefore, some churches may re-open this weekend while others are holding off.

"We'll do it, as soon as we feel like it's safe. And won't put anybody at risk,” said Reverend John Roberts of Grace Presbyterian Church.

"We are enthused and excited to open up, but will probably wait another 2 to 3 weeks,” said Pastor Steve Coronado.

Reverend Roberts and Pastor Steve Coronado say until then, they’re coming up with a plan of best practices to ensure parishioner’s safety.

"Because of our size and the rooms in our auditorium, we're going to have to plan it, and be very strategic on how we do it safely,” said Pastor Coronado.

He and other local pastors plan to ask their congregation to wear face masks. They’ll also ask families to sit together, but sit six feet away from other families. They’ll also be offering more services, while some services may be shorter in length.

Pastor Bil Cornelius at Church Unlimited says “for example, “Let's say you have 130 people in a service and you only have 130 seats, you probably need to do two services then and make sure you can have half of the room filled and spaced out to give more protection."

Pastor Cornelius says it'll be a few weeks before Church Unlimited reopens for service. Until then, they will continue online services.

Judge Canales is working with local church leaders on guidelines that would need to be followed for church services to resume. The county has yet to give their blessings for those churches to reopen.