DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio never closed its houses of worship, but many say they won’t reopen until it’s safer. Weeks ago, Governor DeWine asked places of worship to stop in-person services, and many heeded that request. The Catholic Church is now preparing to restart masses this Monday, but many other churches in our area say they’ll likely remain closed for some time.
Dr. Jamison Hunter is the pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. He says, “I cannot open the building with the numbers we are still seeing.”
There’s still no reopening date for many of the churches that are navigating the coronavirus pandemic. Tracy Wright is a Church Planter at Discover Point Church. He says, “We want to be respectful citizens. We also want to be responsible with the people, especially the most vulnerable out there.”
Wright says the majority of Discover Point Church members want to come back, but others are still cautious. “There’s concern. Obviously, there are some families that have high-risk situations, and they’re way more cautious, and rightfully so.”
The president’s call to reopen houses of worship this weekend brought more questions about how to keep people apart. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, says, “There is a way to social distance like you all are here, in places of worship.”
Crossroads Church has been active online while its Miami Valley locations remain closed. In a statement, Crossroads said “Our buildings will remain closed until we are certain that opening them will be healthy for our people both spiritually and physically.”
The Catholic Church is planning to reopen soon. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati says public masses will begin Monday. The faithful will be encouraged to wear masks, the number of people in the church may be regulated, and there will be no physical contact.
But many churches are still waiting to see proof the tide has turned. Dr. Hunter says, “What I’m waiting to see is the numbers for particularly Montgomery County go down. I’m waiting to see our ICU numbers and hospitalizations go down.”
Tracy Wright says it’s been a challenge helping members navigate this pandemic as so many people have been affected in some way. Some are small business owners who are losing their livelihoods, many people are still unemployed, and still more have contracted the virus themselves.