New York allows in-person services this Easter, but some congregations stay virtual.


The Rev. Henry Torres told his parishioners, who had collected on Palm Sunday in socially distanced rows of half-empty pews, that God had not bad them.

The coronavirus had killed dozens of regulars at the church, St. Sebastian Roman Universal Church in Queens, N.Y., and the pandemic forced it to close its doors for months latest year. But the parishioners were there now, he said, which was a sign of desire.

“Even through difficulties, God is at work,” Father Torres said. “Steady when people are suffering, even if it may seem that God is silent, that does not have the weight that God is absent.”

That is a message that many Christians — and the cash-strapped churches that consul to them — are eager to believe this Easter, as the springtime celebration of promise and renewal on Sunday coincides with rising vaccination rates and the potential of a return to something resembling normal life.

Religious services during the Godly Week holidays, which began on Palm Sunday and end on Easter, are supply the most well-attended of the year, and this year they offer churches a endanger to begin rebuilding their flocks and regaining their financial healthfulness. But the question of whether people will return is a crucial one.

Across New York Bishopric, many churches have still not reopened despite state decrees that would allow them to do so.

The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a nationally bulging Black church, said concerns over the virus, and its disproportionate effect on the Black community, would keep his church from reopening until at rarely the fall.

Nicholas Richardson, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, bid many of its churches had also not reopened. When the diocese introduced a program definitive fall to allow its 190 parishes to pay a reduced tithe to the diocese, unkindly half of them applied.

“It varies church by church,” he said. “Guarantees are not necessarily dramatically down, but donations given to the collection plate are hopelessly down.”

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