Religious groups alter services amid coronavirus concerns

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Religious leaders in Fresno say they’re encouraging people in a high-risk category to stay home and use video and live streams to keep them connected during services.

“Faith-based organizations that are having gatherings, if they can break those into smaller groups to allow for some social distancing, those are really good steps that can be put in place,” Fresno County Director of Public Health, David Pomaville said.

Staff at the unitarian universalist church of Fresno say they spent hours coming up with a plan to keep their congregation safe.

“Really strategizing how we can meet the spiritual needs of the congregation without putting anybody who is a vulnerable population at risk. So how can we bring the church to people who aren’t feeling safe enough to come out of their house?” Tim Kutzmark with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno said.

This weekend, for the first time ever, the church will be live streaming its Sunday service.

At the temple Beth Isreal, Rabbi Rick Winer says some members of his congregation have expressed concerns.

“We really want to help cooperate with the community around us and minimize the risk of spreading the disease to people who are vulnerable,” Rabbi Rick Winer with the Temple of Beth Isreal said.

Winer says there are usually between 30 to a hundred people at their regular Friday services, with plenty of room to keep a safe distance.

The Friday services will continue, but the temple’s big festival of Purim Celebration this weekend has been put on hold.

“We’re trying to anticipate anything that can come up, so whether or not we might need to move to stream. Normally in a Jewish service, we don’t allow videotaping. That will probably change,” Winer said.

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