Utah houses of worship reopen, slowly

May 22, 2020, 5:29 PM
utah houses of worship reopen slowly...
Many houses of worship, like Life in Christ Church in Salt Lake City, are taking steps to open their doors slowly and safely. President Trump deemed houses of worship essential on Friday and encouraged governors to let them open. (Photo: Life in Christ Church)
(Photo: Life in Christ Church)

SALT LAKE CITY – Houses of worship across Utah moved their services online as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Now some are starting to slowly reopen or, at least, are changing how they do things. 

President Donald Trump deemed houses of worship as essential on Friday and encouraged governors across the country to let them open. The Centers for Disease Control also released guidelines on how churches can do that safely. 

But Pastor Nate Taylor of Corner Canyon Church in Draper says they have already been holding services outside, which people have appreciated. 

“They come to service and socially-distance outside in our parking lot. We have sanitized chairs we provide. Our philosophy was we want people to feel and to be more safe going to church than they would at the supermarket,” Taylor said. 

Some houses of worship suggest staying home

Pastor Brian Tebben of Life in Christ Church in Salt Lake City says they will have some people at the church helping with the liturgy and music. But he says it’s safer for many in the congregation to keep viewing their services online for the time being. 

“We have people all over the spectrum, so we have some who are considered more high risk being at the age they are. We’re also right in a very walkable neighborhood, and as people who really want to love our neighbors, we also want to be where the neighborhood is at as well,” Tebben says. 

Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad of Utah is excited to be able to hold services next week in time for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. But they’ll be closing off some spaces, holding the service in a larger room, and taking safety precautions. 

“We’ve actually asked people to let us know beforehand that they are participating. We are encouraging people not to congregate anywhere throughout the building, come inside, wash your hands with soap, use sanitizer, make sure you’re wearing a mask,” Zippel says. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already announced a phased opening of its temples and churches, while the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City has been holding Catholic mass for almost two weeks with COVID-19 safety precautions.       


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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Utah houses of worship reopen, slowly