The Rev. Henry Torres instructed his parishioners, who had gathered on Palm Sunday in socially distanced rows of half-empty pews, that God had not deserted them.
The coronavirus had killed dozens of regulars on the church, St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Queens, N.Y., and the pandemic compelled it to shut its doorways for months final yr. However the parishioners have been there now, he mentioned, which was an indication of hope.
“Even by means of difficulties, God is at work,” Father Torres mentioned. “Even when persons are struggling, even when it might appear that God is silent, that doesn’t imply that God is absent.”
That may be a message that many Christians — and the cash-strapped church buildings that minister to them — are desirous to consider this Easter, because the springtime celebration of hope and renewal on Sunday coincides with rising vaccination charges and the promise of a return to one thing resembling regular life.
Spiritual companies throughout the Holy Week holidays, which started on Palm Sunday and finish on Easter, are among the many most well-attended of the yr, and this yr they provide church buildings an opportunity to start rebuilding their flocks and regaining their monetary well being. However the query of whether or not folks will return is an important one.
Throughout New York Metropolis, many church buildings have nonetheless not reopened regardless of state guidelines that will enable them to take action.
The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a nationally outstanding Black church, mentioned issues over the virus, and its disproportionate influence on the Black group, would hold his church from reopening till at the very least the autumn.
Nicholas Richardson, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, mentioned a lot of its church buildings had additionally not reopened. When the diocese launched a program final fall to permit its 190 parishes to pay a lowered tithe to the diocese, roughly half of them utilized.
“It varies church by church,” he mentioned. “Pledges are usually not essentially dramatically down, however donations given to the gathering plate are hopelessly down.”