AVON, Ind. (WISH) — Some places of worship across central Indiana were able to open their doors for the first time in several weeks on Sunday, with social distancing guidelines in place.
Marion County still has a ban on religious gatherings, but churches in surrounding counties have been preparing for reopening day and taking different approaches.
In person services at Faith Baptist Church in Avon started at 10:30 a.m. but according to the church website, attendance will be limited to 100 people.
Members had to RSVP their attendance and sit in assigned seats. The church is also encouraging people to wear masks and to not shake hands. Sunday school and other church activities are still canceled.
Other churches are taking less restrictive precautions.
Our Father’s House church about a mile east of Faith Baptist says their congregation of about 75 people is excited to be together and pray together in person for the first time in six weeks.
Pastor Paul T. Johnson says they have asked the elderly and people with underlying conditions to stay home, but also says he was ready to reopen as soon as Gov. Eric Holcomb lifted restrictions.
Johnson says the church has been deep cleaned and has hand sanitizer available, but as for touching or hugging, he says members will do what they feel is right for them.
“I’m not in control of people. People are excited and that may lead to hugging. If people aren’t comfortable, our services are optional and they can remain at home,” Johnson said.
He also says he respects the decision some places of worship have made in continuing to hold services virtually, but also says he’s done what has been advised and is now ready to invite people back in.
Other than deep cleaning the church, Johnson says the chairs and layout in the sanctuary remained as they were before COVID-19.
News 8 reached out to the Hendricks County Health Department who says they support churches reopening in accordance to the Back On Track Indiana guidelines laid out by the state.
It has yet to be seen whether those guidelines are being embraced on Sunday. The state does say it can make changes to its Back on Track Indiana plan if the Governor thinks it’s necessary.