Governor Holcomb says religious groups will be exempt from new outbreak restrictions enacted in response to a surge in cases.
He added that they had been very observant of how best the local churches are keeping people safe from covid-19 infections even though the cases in the country keep on rising.
A local assembly by name The St. Joseph County Department of Health has sent a letter to church leaders on October 13 encouraging them to go virtual after identifying clusters of coronavirus from religious organizations.
“Others have decided to continue worshiping in person and so we’ve tried to work with them to help them do that as safely as possible,” said Dr. Mark Fox, Deputy health officer.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in South Bend has maintained in-person, livestream and car radio services since the beginning of October.
Church leaders put safety protocols in place requiring masks for everyone, social distancing on pews and maintaining small groups for communion.
Pastor Jeremiah Jording says the church is a second home home for many of the members. That’s why he says it was so important to make a safe, in-person community for his parishioners.
“To hear words about hope and unity in a time of crazy division. It’s we felt this was too important to give up,” said Jeremiah Jording, St. Paul Lutheran pastor.
Jording says he appreciates the Governor’s commitment to religious liberty. But he says it’s the churches responsibility to find a balance of providing safety and spreading hope during this difficult time.
“It helps me to not feel alone because it can cause a lot of anxiety and things like that so just knowing that God doesn’t create the anxiety.. that it’s outside things really helps,” said Sydney Rieck, parishioner.
“We’re all together, we’re all unified in understanding it’s in our COVID statement to count others as more significant than yourselves, that’s the primary reason why we mask, why we distance,” said Jording.
Indiana has begun to implement new restrictions as of today.
All in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Counties with 100 to 199 new cases will be listed as orange and will have to limit social gathering to 50 people.
Gatherings of more then 50 in an orange county will need approval from the local health department.
Counties will be listed as red if they have 200 or more new cases of coronavirus.
Face coverings are required state wide in all public spaces.