Despite reopening plan, some Virginia churches choosing to remain closed

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Churches in Virginia can start hosting in-person services starting this weekend as part of phase one of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan. Leaders at several places of worship in Richmond told 8News they aren’t ready to move forward just yet.

Places of worship will be allowed to hold services inside with 50% capacity. Many seem to be waiting on taking that step until seeing how phase one will go.

Richmond’s First Baptist Church has been streaming their Sunday service well before the coronavirus pandemic. However, things now look different without a congregation. Even though the church will be allowed to reopen to a smaller crowd on Sunday, it has decided to wait.

“On a normal Sunday the hallways in our church are filled with children, their parents, young adults and seniors,” Jim Norvelle, who chairs the church’s COVID-19 response team, told 8News, “and each group has said to us clearly, we need to take our time.”

Norvelle said safety is key to reopening, so they are in no rush to send people back inside the church.

“First Baptist has been a church in Richmond since 1780,” he explained. “Has been at this location since the late 1920s, so another month or two, whatever it’s going to take, we will get through this.”

The same can be said for Village of Faith Ministries, where Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones is a pastor.

“I could have folks singing at home just as well as making a joyful noise in a sanctuary,” Jones told 8News, “but they’ll be safer at home. So, it doesn’t matter whether we’re connecting through social media and live streaming or whether we’re in an exact space.”

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