ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They were closed for a few weeks and then forced to operate at 25% capacity. Now, New Mexico houses of worship are allowed to welcome more of their congregation into their buildings.
Sunday morning, dozens of worshipers sang out praises at Citizen Church. This is the first time in months, the church has been allowed to welcome 560 people. “To be here and have the connections with people in person always feels great,” said Chris Cunningham, one of the pastors at Citizen Church.
Earlier this week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham updated the public health order, giving churches the green light to increase capacity. Pastors at both Citizen Church and Calvary Church say they’re happy to reunite with more of their congregation. “Gathering together with other believers makes a really big difference in people’s lives,” said Nate Heitzig the Chief Pastoral Officer at Calvary Church.
To keep members safe, Cunningham says they’ll continue strictly enforcing the mask mandate and social distancing. “We’re making sure there aren’t any large groupings, things like that, gathering. If there are, our team members are really good at looking out for that,” said Cunningham.
All over the atrium of Citizen Church, you’ll see signs reminding people to stay six feet apart from each other. Kids have their temperatures checked before going into their auditorium, and they count the number of people entering the main auditorium to make sure they don’t go over that 560 person limit.
Citizen Church reopened its kids’ auditorium. Before the capacity increase, they were hosting all of their kids’ services online. They say they’ll continue to offer online services for those who still aren’t comfortable coming in person.