Safe to congregate? Religious leaders discuss safe re-opening plans

Posted at 1:59 PM, May 13, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A branch of Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s COVID-19 “Economic Response Team” spent the morning conducting a virtual meeting. Its members kicked around ideas on how to safely re-open the city’s houses of worship.

“Here at the Antioch (Missionary Baptist) Church we’re looking at having two services on Wednesdays, and two on Sundays,” said Rev. Keith Tyler, Sr. “And these services will be geared towards different sectors.”

This means that there will be separate services being held for seniors, who are in a more vulnerable age group, while those in younger age groups would attend at different times, and in smaller groups.

While that plan seems feasible, other religious leaders in the city didn’t seem ready to commit to anything at this time.

“Our congregation isn’t prepared to have any kind of re-open until there’s far more information and resources available,” said Rabbi David Wirtschafter of Temple Adath Israel.

Rev. Tyler followed that up, by noting that one pastor he spoke with said he doesn’t feel as if his church will re-open until sometime in the summer of 2021.

Most churches and other places of worship have been offering online viewing of their services since pandemic-induced social distancing orders came down from Frankfort. Now the ideas discussed this morning will be sent to the state capitol, where Gov. Andy Beshear can make informed decisions based on the plans being offered by these team members.

“I’m pumping the brakes on some things, because we are still gauging ourselves accordingly. And not being judgmental, but we know there are those who are not part of the faith-based community, but they are people. And we are concerned about all people,” Tyler said.