Local churches decide whether to offer indoor services as restrictions are removed

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After legal battles surrounding the constraints on houses of worship, Governor J.B Pritzker released those restrictions on state churches Thursday.

The announcement came during a news conference where the Governor released new guidelines the state begins to enter Phase 3 of its Restore Illinois plan.

Removing the previous restrictions now give churches the option to abandon online services and transition back into indoor services.

Some of the new safety guidelines included continuing remote and outdoor services, advising against singing and only allowing less than 100 members or 25% of the churches capacity indoors.

However, not all church leaders said they’re ready to open their doors for service just yet.

Pastor Spencer Gibson Jr., the interim pastor for Peoria’s New Life Christian Church, said his church is prioritizing safety over a rushed reopening.

“Really, we’re very excited about it in the sense that we’ll be able to see a lot of our members that we haven’t seen,” Gibson said. “But our safety is going to be the main thing. We don’t want to rush back at the risk of someone’s safety.”

Gibson said the church will exercise caution and follow the state’s suggested, but not mandatory, safety guidelines.

“We’ll be cautious and when they do get back we’ll still practice social distancing,” Gibson said. “We’ll be wearing masks, we’ve probably considered two services depending on how many people will be allotted in the church during that time.”

There are other churches, such as Riverside Community Church, that announced via Facebook they will start offering indoor services starting Sunday at 10am.

While Governor Pritzkers’ new safety guidelines are not obligatory, he said these recommendations are aimed at keeping the public safe.

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