Cabinet statement regarding reopening amid COVID-19

A Statement by the Interfaith Partnership Cabinet urging all houses of worship to use extreme caution before reconvening worshipers

As civic leaders in the bi-state region begin easing public health measures, area religious leaders warn that reconvening public worship too quickly could have devastating consequences.

The Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis and the 34 communities of faith and conscience we represent urge all houses of worship to be cautious and intentional about gathering congregants in person, and encourage the continued use of safe, creative ways of connecting that allow for worship while protecting worshipers and their neighbors.

The pandemic has been difficult for people of faith and conscience, as it has for everyone. The illness that has affected so many people around the world and has caused death to hundreds of thousands saddens our hearts. Houses of worship are where people gather for community, almost becoming like family. At a time when people are experiencing social isolation, financial hardship, grief and loss, people want to turn to their house of worship for solace and support.

While communities of faith and conscience miss the practices, rituals, and community that they share, they must also realize that the threat to the health and welfare of our region continues. Just because houses of worship are allowed to gather in person, does not mean such gatherings are without significant risk.

We encourage all communities of faith and conscience to intentionally create a plan for inviting people to gather for worship activities. That plan should include: requiring masks, cleaning protocols, seating plan that maintains six feet between worshipers, checking temperatures, doorway management, and a system for contact tracing. We also encourage full compliance and cooperation with all local health directives, which may vary by jurisdiction. Houses of worship are essential to our region.

Communities of faith and conscience have responded to the pandemic in amazing and inspiring ways, offering steady connection in a time of social distancing, meeting moral obligations for loving neighbors, and holding hope in face of despair. While our thoughts and practices may differ, we are united in the belief that sharing love for one another means doing whatever we can to protect each other and those that surround us.

The Interfaith Partnership Cabinet, founded and staffed by the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, represents 34 religious communities of faith and conscience within the St. Louis area. It is led by Chair Rev. Dr. David Greenhaw and Vice-Chair Maharat Rori Picker-Neiss.

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