New York is personally accepting services this weekend, but some congregations are virtual.
Priest Henry Torres told his parishioners, who gathered in the queues of half-empty socially distanced banks on Palm Sunday, that God had not forsaken them.
The coronavirus killed dozens of regulars at the Roman Catholic Church in Queens, San Sebastian, and the pandemic forced it to close its doors in recent months. But while the parishioners were there, he said it was a sign of hope.
“In the midst of the difficulties, God is working,” Father Torres said. “Even when people are suffering, even though God seems to be silent, that doesn’t mean God isn’t there.”
That’s what many Christians – and the churches endowed with the money they offer – believe they are eager for Easter, as the celebration of the spring of hope and renewal on Sunday coincides with rising rates of vaccinations and a promise to return something similar. normal life.
During the Easter holidays, which begin on Palm Sunday and end on Easter Sunday, religious services are one of the busiest of the year and this year the churches are offering the opportunity to start rebuilding their flocks and regaining their economic health. But asking if people will come back is key.
Throughout New York, many churches have not yet reopened despite state regulations that would allow them to do so.
Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a nationally prominent black church, said concerns about the virus and its disproportionate impact on the black community would prevent it from reopening its church, at least in the fall.
Nicholas Richardson, a spokesman for the New York Diocesan Bishop, said many of the local churches have not yet reopened. When the diocese introduced a program last fall, 190 parishes were allowed to pay a reduced tithe to the diocese, roughly half of which they applied for.
“The church changes the church,” he said. “Commitments aren’t necessarily significantly reduced, but donations to the collection plate are hopefully declining.”