BERLIN, N.J. (CBS) — There’s confusion for congregations. President Donald Trump says churches should hold worship services despite New Jersey’s stay-at-home orders. So a church in South Jersey is preparing to hold a service on Sunday morning, its first since the coronavirus shutdown.
Faith leaders at Solid Rock Baptist Church say about 300 people have registered to attend its first in-person worship service since its doors were ordered to close by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy because of COVID-19.
Many staff members were sanitizing the building ahead of Sunday’s 10 a.m. service.
“We’re going to do this as safely as possible,” pastor Charles Clark III said.
Clark says the sanctuary seats up to 1,000 people but will only allow about a quarter of capacity, spaced six feet apart. After 250 attendees meet capacity for the sanctuary, the remainder will watch from the gym.
On Friday, President Trump deemed houses of worship essential during the coronavirus crisis. Trump also called on governors to allow them to reopen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new recommended guidelines to safely reopen — things like modifying methods used to collect money and reconsidering types of physical contact like hugging and handshaking.
“People coming to our church will have a touchless temperature taken,” Clark said. “Anybody 100.4 and above will not be able to come into the church building. Everybody coming into the church building will wear masks.”
Over in Blackwood in Gloucester Township, pastors at Bethel Church say they hope to start in-person services next Sunday. They plan to encourage older members to continue to worship virtually and offer multiple services to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“Our plan is to have a very abbreviated service and leave about an hour between each service to give time for our team to go through the entire building and do our best to sanitize the common areas,” Bethel Church Pastor Curt Kinney said.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced it will resume its in-person mass in two weeks on June 6.