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Online services to continue as houses of worship wait to reopen

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 18:22:41-04

TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — Jeanne Kreuder of Tonawanda misses Sunday mass.

"It's not the same at home," she said.

It's a difficult time for people like Jeanne, but they've found ways to be lifted up.

Places of worship like The Chapel in Getzville has been live streaming Sunday services and sending out updates and messages to its congregation.

"This is an opportunity for us to continue to act like followers of Jesus," Jerry Gillis, lead Pastor of The Chapel said in a video message to his congregates. "Continuing to act like Christians in the midst of this time."

It's all anyone can do as things continue to change.

During New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's press conference Monday it was announced that as of now, places of worship fall in Phase Four of the state's reopening process.

"That's a mass gathering," NYS Budget Director Robert Mujica said. "The same thing with a stadium, any situation where you have a lot of people together."

Phase Four won't be happening anytime soon which means the pews inside churches will remain closed for the time being. But masses and services will eventually return and when they do, things will be different.

St. Amelia Parish in the Town of Tonawanda is waiting for guidance from the Buffalo Diocese on how to proceed once they're allowed to hold mass. But they're also planning ahead.

They've discussed adding hand sanitizing stations, having extra masks, and adjusting their communion lines to keep up with social distancing.

"Keeping in good safe procedures, no one is walking on top of each other," Father Sebastian Pierro said. "That's the key thing."

Preparing is all they can do. Until pews can once again be full church leaders will continue to bring worship into homes, ensuring we'll get through this as long as we don't lose hope.

"It's because of our faith, because of what we believe in the church, and what we hunger for - to gather again together as a church and a family - that will be our blessing," Pierro said.

Places like St. Amelia Parish have private prayer hours throughout the week. They just ask that parishioners practice safe social distancing.