Chicago church officials say it's safe to return back to in-person services after COVID shutdown

While churches have reopened, not all church-goers are back
CHICAGO (WLS) -- This is Holy Week for Christians, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the coming days.

Churches are trying to get back to normal following COVID shutdowns and restrictions, and falling attendance.

Now, local church leaders are working to bring people back to in-person services.

The Apostolic Church of God was open for business for Palm Sunday over the weekend. The pastor said the in-person congregation is only about half of the pre-pandemic crowd but online attendance has doubled.

RELATED: Chicago celebrates Palm Sunday as Lent ends, Holy Week begins

"We have seen greater increases in giving, even remotely and online, and in prayer," said Dr. Byron T. Brazier with the Apostolic Church of God.

As churches are returning to normal from the pandemic restrictions, they are encouraging members to come back.

"There is special joy in returning to our parish communities after two years of pandemic separation," said Cardinal Blase Cupich.

The head of the Chicago Archdiocese said it's now safe to be back in-person at church. The bishop of the Joliet Diocese also sent a letter last week before Palm Sunday removing the dispensation that relieved Catholics from the obligation to attend church on Sundays.

"We're still not at the same numbers as pre-pandemic but it's coming back," said Bishop Ron Hicks with the Joliet Diocese.

RELATED: What do Christians celebrate on Palm Sunday?

About 90% of churches are inviting people back. According to the Pew Research Center, as of last month 43% of churches are open in the same way as they were before the pandemic; 47% are open but with some changes; and just 5% have not reopened.

About 90% of churches are inviting people back. According to the Pew Research Center, as of last month, 43% of churches are open in the same way as they were before the pandemic.



While churches have reopened, not all church-goers are back.

"So while churches continue to reopen, people attending are numbers the same as last fall," said Gregory Smith with Pew Research.

Some area churches, however, said they are seeing greater numbers since the start of Lent.

RELATED: Oak Park church 'fasting from whiteness' for Lent is going online only after threats

"Might be an indication the society is feeling a desire to come together as a community and value what's important," said Bishop Robert McClory with the Diocese of Gary.

The best indication of church attendance may come this Sunday. Easter Sunday is traditionally one of the biggest church days of the year.

For those who aren't quite ready to return yet, Holy Name Mass will air at noon Sunday on ABC7. You can also watch online or on our ABC7 Chicago streaming app.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.