Religious leaders remind people to stay safe and follow guidelines


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Places of worship are hitting some bumps in the road as the country continues to reopen.

According to Gov. Jim Justice, there have been church-related COVID-19 outbreaks in six West Virginia counties.

“I think when we see the news of increased numbers of COVID-19 in our state possibly as a result of churches opening I think it gives us greater pause,” said Rabbi Victor Urecki of B’nai Jacob synagogue in Charleston. He said they have been doing services virtually since the second week of March. They’ve created a task force to evaluate the the possibilities of reopening safely.

“We know that people need a religious experience and with each time we see those numbers ticking upward we realize we need to be very cautious because, because ultimately while the beauty of the soul and nourishing of the soul is extremely important the preservation of life is also more important,” Urecki said.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball with the West Virgina Conference of the United Methodist Church says she’s encouraging members to be diligent.

“Once you set your guidelines you need to educate people about those guidelines,” she said. “Then you need to follow those guidelines. Because when you have guidelines and then you allow someone not to follow what the group has agreed upon is safe then what you do is undermine trust.”

Many religious organizations are simply telling people to do what makes them feel the most comfortable.

“We are really trying to help our congregations and leadership to take this virus seriously,” Ball said.

Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice reminded residents of the importance of wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.

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