Facing new restrictions, some San Diego-area churches shift outdoors

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SAN DIEGO – In the first weekend with new state restrictions in place, churches across San Diego County are adjusting by holding outdoor services.

Facing a recent surge of coronavirus cases in the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom prohibited indoor activities starting last week at places of worship as well as gyms, malls, offices for non-essential businesses and personal care services such as salons and barbershops.

Now area churches find themselves back in a familiar spot, previously limited this year by state and local public health orders, and already forced to get creative to reach parishioners.

Shadow Mountain Church in El Cajon held an evening service Saturday and dozens attended. The church provided hand sanitizer, encouraged attendees to wear face coverings and enforced social distancing by separating chairs.

“We do everything we can within the rules,” Pastor David Jeremiah said, “but still have church because we really believe that it’s important for the church to meet together.”

St. Agnes Catholic Church in Point Loma also was scheduled to hold outdoor services Sunday, insisting upon the practice rather than doing it virtually. Others have held online-only services this year, but St. Agnes parishioner Chris Findley insists that virtual service is “just not the same for us.”

“By doing it outdoors, following all guidelines, we feel that we can protect people and still do mass,” Findley said.

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