Churches celebrate change to 100% capacity

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time in a year, houses of worship are finally allowed to operate at 100% capacity. Churches spent Sunday morning celebrating the victory.

This is the first Sunday since the start of the pandemic that they’ve been able to welcome their entire congregation back in person. The change to the governor’s public health order comes nearly three months after the Supreme Court ruled against California’s limits on church capacity. The Justice ruled that if other places in the state can be open at 100% capacity, like schools, churches must have that option too.

“We have freedoms and rights,” said Steve Smothermon, the Pastor at Legacy Church. “The Supreme Court is making that very clear,” he said regarding the ruling.

Smothermon’s church saw more than half of their congregation at their 10:45 a.m. Sunday service. Calvary Church on Osuna had a packed parking lot for their 9:00 a.m. service, and Citizen Church near Eubank and Copper said they didn’t know what to expect, but they prepared for anything. “We want to make sure we’re still able to gather and grow in our faith, that’s what’s important to us,” said Citizen Church Connections Pastor Chris Cunningham.

The revised public health order does still strongly encourage reduced capacity levels as seen at St. Joseph’s Church on Sunday. Archbishop John C. Wester has asked Catholic Churches to abide by the state’s red-to-turquoise framework, so Catholic mass will not allow 100% attendance at this time.

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