What will loosened gathering restrictions mean for churches?

Phase 4 of the Governor’s plan allows for the lesser of 100 people or 50% capacity
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - “We took on a model that said basically to be the example not the exception to the governor’s orders.”

East Orrington Congregational Church averaged around 150 people per service before the pandemic.

Pastor Carl Schreiber has encouraged church members to use their virtual services, and they’ve been averaging around 40 people a week in house.

“We’ve never really had to worry about the over 50.”

50 was set as the initial state limit for indoor gatherings.

Schreiber’s not sure if the loosening of restrictions to allow the lesser of 50% capacity or 100 people will bring more people back into the sanctuary.

“Do I want us to get back in full fellowship, absolutely, but it’s just not worth the risk.”

Thanks to their virtual services, they’re actually reaching more people than they might otherwise.

“Part of our congregation in the Carolinas that are now joining us every Sunday again, from Florida, from Arizona.”

“I think for the people of Crosspoint it’s been very frustrating.”

Senior Pastor Jerry Mick of Crosspoint Church in Bangor says new changes won’t make that much of a difference.

The sanctuary normally has a capacity of 800 people.

“I know part of the new mandate is 50% occupancy or 100 but for large churches that doesn’t help us a whole lot.”

Mick says increase still leaves hundreds of church members vying to reserve their spot ahead of time to attend an in-person service.

“I would just say number one thank you governor Mills but secondly it would be really good if you could do more.”

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