- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2021

Don’t stop streaming, worshippers across the country say in a national survey covering Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.

While churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship in and around Washington, D.C., are reopening after 14 months of pandemic-related lockdowns, 84% of those nationally surveyed who attend worship services told research firm Censuswide that they want to see an online option continue.

In the District, 83% of those who responded to the survey said they, too, want an online worship option.

An app called Muslim Pro, which bills itself as “the world’s most popular religious and community app” and claims 100 million downloads, sponsored the research. The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 1,033 respondents aged 16 and up in the U.S. between March 29 and April 1 of 2021.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of life, with many of the physical places turning to online and digital services to connect. Along with the changes to the retail sector, there is a clear shift in the way people practice their faith and many places of worship are now thinking about how they can adapt,” Zahariah Jupary, head of community for the Muslim Pro app, said in a statement.

“Even if we don’t yet know all the ways in which the world will be different after COVID, what we can say is that this sudden shift, as evidenced by the findings of the Censuswide survey, provides an opportunity for religious leaders to reimagine how they reach their congregation,” Ms. Jupary added.

On May 28, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Mass attendance. In early June, Catholic bishops across the region ended a “general dispensation” granted to the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days as of June 26-27, with an exception for those “who are ill” or were recently exposed to the coronavirus.

Congregation Adas Israel, on Quebec Street NW, said on its website that it would resume in-person worship on June 12. Masks and social distancing will be required for all indoor services, and the traditional refreshments served after a worship service will be suspended.

Kesher Israel, known also as The Georgetown Synagogue on N Street NW, has resumed in-person services with a mask requirement. By contrast, the Washington Hebrew Congregation, on Macomb Street NW, is still worshiping only online.

“I believe most mosques have in-person prayers with modifications for COVID-19 health measures,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the D.C.-based Council on Islamic-American Relations.

Three leading mosques in the area — the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center in Manassas, the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church and the Adams Center Mosque in Sterling — each reported in-person worship services with social distancing on their websites.

In-person worship at the National Cathedral will resume July 4, said Kevin Eckstrom, the cathedral’s chief communications officer.

“Things keep changing, so we’re not exactly sure what things will look like a month from now, but for now our plan is to include both masks and social distancing, per D.C. Health guidelines,” Mr. Eckstrom said.

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, issued guidelines on May 13 saying she trusts each pastor “to monitor the guidance from civic authorities and adjust your practices accordingly” as parishes reopen for worship. Bishop Budde said a common cup and loaf of bread for Communion should not be used, substituting individual portions.

Melissa Lauber, a spokeswoman for the United Methodist Church’s Baltimore-Washington Conference, headquartered in Fulton, Maryland, said: “I am not currently aware of any churches that are not meeting in-person in some way, but we may have a few.”

There are 603 United Methodist congregations in the church region, which stretches from the Chesapeake Bay to the West Virginia panhandle.

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