NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order allowing indoor gatherings of up to 50 people means churches, synagogues and masques can reopen their doors to congregants.
But, many congregations are opting to continue virtual services to keep worshipers safe.READ MORE: Gas Eyed As Cause Of House Explosion That Killed 1 Woman, Injured 8 Others In The Bronx
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CBS2’s John Elliot spoke with Senior Pastor Dr. Drew Kyndall Ross of New Hope Baptist Church in Hackensack, N.J., who said online services create an opportunity for growth.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that you have to step out of your comfort zone…It’s not easy preaching to a camera,” said Ross. “I’ve learned that [our congregation] is dedicated beyond Sunday morning.”
One month before the coronavirus shutdown, the New Hope Baptist Church, which is celebrating its 100th year, upgraded its audio and video capabilities.
Some people thought if fewer people were attending services, participation would drop.READ MORE: NYPD Officer Released From Hospital After Being Shot In The Bronx
Pastor Ross said that’s not necessarily true.
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“Some family members that would not normally come to church have been going to church on Sunday with those in their household who are watching online,” said Ross. “I have also watched members of our church who have moved away to different locations, who have not been able to find a church home, who have been reconnecting with our church…”
Given the nationwide protests since the death of George Floyd, Elliott asked Ross if faith can be a gateway to more reconciliation between all races.New York AG: Trump Organization Misled Banks And Tax Officials
Ross said, “Absolutely…when we look historically at the civil rights movement…the church was always on the forefront…this time we have to continue to remain on the forefront…and seek to make a partnership between church community and the country as a whole.”