Although a federal court halted Kentucky governor Andy Beshear's temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services, most Northern Kentucky churches have opted to follow the governor's plan to wait until May 20 to open. Some churches plan to wait until even later before inviting congregations back.
"There's many at our church that have said, even once we get the green light to be back in person, we probably won't come back till a vaccine has developed or more time has passed," said David Grout, senior pastor of Florence United Methodist Church. He's not planning to open his church's doors for about another month, he said.
He also plans to continue the church's online presence, for those in the congregation who are considered at-risk for COVID-19, or those who simply don't feel comfortable to return to large gatherings yet.
In the meantime, other NKY churches are working out the logistics of welcoming back in-person worship safely, with social distance restrictions in place.
Pastor Kevin Murphy, with Covington's South Side Baptist Church, plans to return the Sunday after May 20 but service at the church will likely look a little differently, with pews spaced to allow nine feet of distance, reconfigured entrances and exits and a prepared supply of face masks and hand sanitizer at the ready.
"It's gonna be hard not to hug and shake hands and all of those things that come real natural to us around here … but very thankful to be able to see everybody soon," he said.
The Diocese of Covington said it plans to resume public celebration of the Eucharist beginning Wednesday, May 20, with the first weekend mass to follow on Saturday and Sunday.