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Idaho churches weigh resuming in-person services

Starting May 1, congregations will be allowed to meet under CDC guidelines.

BOISE, Idaho — Like almost everything these days, the pandemic has caused Sunday church services to look a little different. 

Matt Priebe is the lead pastor at True Hope, Collister in Boise, and is one of many pastors who are now leading online services and are charting their course back to normal.

“There is an ongoing joke that pastors only work on Sundays. I’m working more now than I ever have,” Priebe said.

As a part of Gov. Brad Little’s guidance for reopening Idaho, starting May 1st places of worship can re-open if they stick to CDC guidance. 

Priebe said for his congregation, the doors will remain closed this coming Sunday. 

“The guidelines, they still recommend gatherings of ten or less at this point,” Priebe said. “So we are going to try and do micro-gatherings within homes that follow those guidelines.”

RELATED: Preparing for parishioners: What Idaho houses of worship are doing before reopening their doors

MORE: 'Most of the state will be open by the end of June': Here's when Idaho bars, churches and more could reopen under Gov. Little's plan

Priebe explained that the decision was made with the entire community in mind.

"We are trying to use an approach that meets the needs of all of those people. Being cautious and doing our part to serve the community and help make sure we can keep COVID19 at bay,” Priebe said.

If everything goes according to plan for True Hope, the goal is to open the doors in some way this summer. 

“We will be able to go back into services of 50 or less and then if things continue to go well with COVID-19, we will be back full bore by mid-June,” Priebe said.

Getting there will take a lot of work.

“There is a lot of logistics we have to figure out. We still need to social distance even inside the building. We still need to make sure we are cleaning our buildings at a heightened level,” Priebe said.

Even then, community leaders know getting back to normal will take some time. 

“Until the vaccine comes along and we know we are beyond this, for sure, we have to do our part and be an active part of this community and not just go full bore recklessly,” Priebe said. “We need to be sensitive to the overall community while meeting the needs of people that want to gather.”

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