Local houses of worship starting to reopen, adding new safety measures for COVID-19


CLEVELAND (WJW) — Houses of worship are beginning to reopen this Memorial Day weekend with added safety measures in place.

“We’re looking forward to gathering the community of faith back together to celebrate the Eucharist, right, as Catholics, this is the most important thing we do,” said Father Sean Ralph, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland will be doing a “soft reopening” with weekday Mass allowed to resume on May 25.

“We’re going to ask people to make sure that they wash their hands before and after they come to church, make sure that they bring sanitizer with them, make sure that they bring and wear a mask, as you can see the pews are set up so that people will be socially distant throughout Mass.”

More guidelines on COVID-19 in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, here.

“For all of our processions there are markers on the floors so that people stay 6 feet apart.”

Ralph says he feels they have a plan that will help people feel comfortable and practice their faith in a way that they’re more accustomed to.

“People are going to notice some things that are a little bit different but we’ve really tried to make it be the mass that they’re going to be familiar with.”

*Read more stories on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, here.*

Catholics in the area are encouraged to contact their parish as not all of them will be starting Mass tomorrow.

Mass will still be live-streamed from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for the foreseeable future for those who don’t feel ready to come back. 

The Cleveland Baptist Church in Brooklyn will be doing the same with their services and welcomed back their congregation on Sunday.

“I really just sensed that our people, by and large, had a desire to return back to church and that if we could do it in a safe manner they would be, they would be willing to come,” said Pastor Peter Folger.

He says he and the other pastors that served there spent a lot of time meeting about the reopening.

Signs remind people of safety precautions and masks are available for those who may want them.

Hand sanitizer now takes the place of scripture in the pews. 

“We removed all of the hymn books, all of the giving books, the collection cards, trying to remove any of those points of contact as possible,” he said.

The church is now conducting three services in the morning: one for seniors, one for families with children and another for the rest of the congregation.

Folger says the auditorium is sanitized in between services and that even the larger service at 11:00 a.m. was only at about 30% capacity.

“You come back when you’re ready. There’s no pressure, but for those that want to come,  the building is open, the doors are open.”

Folger says the pastors will be meeting again this week to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made for the services.


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