MILWAUKEE — For the first time in more than a year, Zion Hill Baptist Church will be opening its doors for in-person worship this Easter Sunday with new precautions in place to ensure a safe return for everyone.
After a lot of praying and consideration, Zion Hill Baptist Church Pastor Russell Williamson decided there was no better time to welcome back his congregation than on a day that celebrates new beginnings.
"This is a Sunday that we celebrate our Lord's reentry. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We thought it would be an exciting time to come back in. It gives us a sense of renewing our worship," said Williamson.
For the past year, services, and even Sunday school at the church, were held via teleconference. But with new procedures now in place, and help from a local business to ensure everything is disinfected, this congregation can look forward to worshipping inside together once again.
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"We have hand sanitizers in the hallway, we have masks, everyone who comes in here will have their temperature checked," said Wilson Gill, chairman of the trustee ministry.
"It seems like the Black churches, they are a little bit behind in regards to reopening. So we want to come in and assist all the churches to reopen safely," said Jeffery Hardy Sr., co-owner of P2R disinfectant.
However, the Wisconsin Council of Churches is still not recommending that congregations gather for in-person worship.
"As far as vaccination rates, we're not quite there for safe gathering. We're getting much closer on new cases, and positive COVID-19 tests," said executive director, Rev. Kerri Parker.
Rev. Parker says it's unsafe for churches to gather with vaccination rates still under 50%. The council doesn't recommend churches gather for in-person services until vaccination rates reach 70% and the rate of positive COVID-19 cases is less than 5%. If churches do decide to hold in-person services this Sunday, the council recommend taking as many precautions as possible.
"As much as we all love singing, limit the amount of singing in your service because that is one of the riskiest behaviors we can undertake together," said Parker.
Zion Hill Baptist Church will only hold one service this Easter Sunday at 10 a.m. attendance will be limited to 150 people.
For sanitation and disinfecting services, click here.