CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Church By The Glades will reopen for in-person Sunday services this weekend -- joining other congregations in Coral Springs in allowing on-site religious gatherings for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began in March.
The 2,000-seat church off West Atlantic Boulevard is taking many safety measures for its Saturday and Sunday services, including checking temperature, requiring masks during services, and spacing out seating in the main auditorium, which will be at 25 percent capacity, church leaders said.
“While church online has proved effective for staying connected with the thousands that call Church by the Glades home, there is no substitute for the inspiration and life-giving hope of meeting together,” the church’s Lead Pastor David Hughes said in a statement.
Earlier this week, First Church Coral Springs on Sample Road also held its first Sunday in-person worship service in months.
And as the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins this weekend, Chabad centers in Coral Springs will offer limited in-person services at their synagogues.
In-person religious services are returning across Coral Springs as the virus infection rate continues dropping and more people are comfortable heading back to their churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship after participating in virtual services in recent months.
But health experts warn against rushing back to the pews too soon, especially those most vulnerable to catching the virus.
A new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that people who attend a place of worship often may be more likely to test positive for Covid-19.
The study asked more than 1,000 residents in Maryland about their social distancing practices in June. People who frequently attended church were 16 times more likely to report that they had tested positive for coronavirus.
“Our findings support the idea that if you’re going out, you should practice social distancing to the extent possible because it does seem strongly associated with a lower chance of getting infected,” Sunil Solomon, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who was the senior author of the study, said in a statement.
Local religious leaders said they are working to make their congregations as safe as possible.
In addition to temperature checks, social distancing, and face masks, Church By The Glades is also going to sanitize seats before and after every service. The church, though, is encouraging people 65 and older who have a “compromised immune system” to worship online.
“We are confident, as we welcome people back to our buildings, we can stay true to our 2000-year-old tradition of encouraging and meeting together and practice prudent protocols to ensure the safety of our people,” Pastor Hughes said.
At the Chabad centers, similar precautions will be in place when the Jewish new year services start on Friday evening.
The Chai Center Chabad on Coral Ridge Drive will have outdoor services under a tent. The Chabad Center of Coral Springs on University Drive and Chabad Jewish Center on West Atlantic Boulevard will have indoor services, which require reservations.
The Chabad Jewish Center will only have 70 adults at its sanctuary and about 15 children at a separate service, the center's Rabbi Yankie Denburg said.
For those uncomfortable going inside, the synagogue will have the ritual blowing of a ram's horn (the shofar) at its parking lot on Sunday at 9:30 am and 6 pm.
“We’re here to provide for everyone,” he said. “Life has to continue on but obviously with the proper precautions.”
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