The Rev. Henry Torres informed 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 pressured it to shut its doorways for months final yr. But the parishioners had been there now, he stated, which was an indication of hope.
“Even through difficulties, God is at work,” Father Torres stated. “Even when people are suffering, even if it may seem that God is silent, that does not mean that God is absent.”
That is a message that many Christians — and the cash-strapped church buildings that minister to them — are wanting to imagine 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.
Religious services 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. But the query of whether or not individuals will return is an important one.
Across New York City, many church buildings have nonetheless not reopened regardless of state guidelines that may enable them to take action.
The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a nationally distinguished Black church, stated issues over the virus, and its disproportionate affect on the Black neighborhood, would hold his church from reopening till at the very least the autumn.
Nicholas Richardson, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, stated lots of its church buildings had additionally not reopened. When the diocese launched a program final fall to permit its 190 parishes to pay a decreased tithe to the diocese, roughly half of them utilized.
“It varies church by church,” he stated. “Pledges are not necessarily dramatically down, but donations given to the collection plate are hopelessly down.”