Michigan houses of worship prepare for busy holiday weekend amid COVID spike
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There were no in-person religious services two years ago when the COVID pandemic began.
There were a few in 2021, but they were pretty limited by COVID restrictions. This year, churches and synagogues are expecting a big turnout even as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
That starts with Good Friday and Passover. Many churches were busy today with Good Friday services, but some think they’ll be packed on Easter Sunday.
In Lansing, hundreds gathered in the pews of St. Mary Catholic Cathedral. However, even with churches open for the holiest week of the year, Bishop Earl Boyea -- of the Lansing Diocese -- said he expects some people to stay home for Easter.
“I have a feeling we’re still going to be down in attendance at most of our places. But people are invited the church doors are open,” Boyea said. “And we’re ready to welcome all of our folks back.”
For some places of worship, masks aren’t required. But for others, masks are strongly encouraged.
Rabbi Matthew Kaufman of Congregation Kehillat Israel in Lansing said after two long years, it feels great to finally be back in person for Passover.
“Passover of course is all about the festival of freedom and traveling from slavery to redemption,” Rabbi Kaufman said. “So, it feels a little different this year.”
COVID remains a concern as cases have spiked in recent weeks. That’s something Rabbi Kaufman is keeping his eye on over the holiday weekend.
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“We’re not out of the woods for sure. We are eyeing with some concern the variants that are making their way across the country once again,” said Rabbi Kaufman.
However, he said even with extra caution, something about this year feels different.
“There’s a certain optimism now. And there’s a certain feeling that we’re on the road to redemption -- we’re on our way out of Egypt as it were,” said Rabbi Kaufman.
Both Rabbi Kaufman and Bishop Boyea said it’s great to finally be back in person.
“You know, faith is not about individuals, just by themselves, isolated individuals,” Bishop Boyea said. “It’s always about a community of faith. So it’s good to have that faith community together supporting one another.”
Religious leaders tell us they’re expecting the biggest turnout since before the pandemic.
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