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Churches React Toward Mitigation Efforts

The Governor is encouraging spiritual leaders to take the health and safety of their congregants into consideration, saying in person gatherings pose a significant threat.

John Godissart, Pastor of Hollidaysburg First United Methodist Church tells me this year has been full of adjustments. All services have been made available online and many in person services have been cancelled or moved outdoors. After returning to some in person services in the fall, he says church leadership decided to move back to virtual several weeks ago after spikes in coronavirus cases across the region.

Leaders from Grace Bible Church in Hollidaysburg say in person services will go on as scheduled this weekend, but they have not yet decided how services will be conducted for the remainder of the year.

Church officials say they encourage congregants to wear masks and social distance. They say only half of the congregation is attending in person, many are watching online.

Godissart says First United Methodist has 6 different outdoor Christmas services scheduled ahead of the annual Christmas Eve service
which is happening virtually.

“We saw on the 23rd number We’re getting pretty high and it’s really hard to tell, we have people register ahead of time. Some will be remaining in their automobiles, which they won’t be close to others, but others will be out. It’s kind a hard to know with that 50 number whether we will be added or maybe above it. So we are adding one additional service to try to compensate for that.”

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Altoona Johnstown tells me parishes are prepared to celebrate advent and Christmas safely. They are reminding parishioner’s that the bishop has waive the obligation to attend masses.


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