SAN DIEGO — More San Diego churches and other houses of worship started hosting outdoor services after the state re-imposed a restriction on indoor services
St. Ages Catholic Church in Point Loma has posted all its services during the pandemic online. However, parishioners complained they missed receiving communion.
“I love being able to see people here gather together and worship together so well,” said Fr. Bill Marquis. “It's very important that the people have the opportunity to receive communion, the body and blood of Christ, and to celebrate together.”
St. Agnes held its first outdoor service Sunday and plans to continue them until they can resume indoor worshipping.
“With the quarantine, we rely even more heavily on technology. Being able to come to mass allows us to unplug, leave the technology, the phones at home and celebrate Mass as a community,” said Chris Findley, a parishioner at St. Agnes.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced counties on the “watch list” with high rates of coronavirus cases must suspend indoor worship services. He cited increasing evidence coronavirus is more easily spread when people congregate indoors.
Several lawsuits opposing the decision have been filed.
Meanwhile, some communities are trying to help places of worship that do not have access to outdoor space continue practicing their faith.
Poway’s City Council approved a new program in response to the state decision that allows places of worship and fitness centers to use city parks for free. The Sharing Outdoor Spaces program began accepting applications Friday and has received many applications.
“Some houses of worship may have room in their parking lots. They have room on their acreage but there are some that meet in storefronts that don't have that opportunity,” explained Mayor Steve Vaus. “We've got plenty of room in our parks so people can come and be socially distanced and wear their masks and not preclude anybody else in the community from using the parks at the same time.”
Some religious organizations held services in parks on Sunday and more are expected next weekend. The program follows a separate initiative earlier this month where the city purchased new picnic tables for businesses to use for outdoor dining. The tables will eventually end up in city parks after the pandemic.
“We're doing the best we can do to keep Poway businesses and Poway houses of worship able to keep going on,” said Vaus. “They've been hit hard and we're going to bend over backwards to make sure that they can continue.”