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Marquette County churches reopen doors with precautions

Bishop Emeritus Thomas Skrenes presides, leading from behind the altar and wearing a face mask, on June 28 during a live-streamed worship service at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Negaunee. (Photo courtesy of Pastor Steve Solberg)

MARQUETTE — When churches were allowed to resume their in-person gatherings on May 19, several sanctuaries in Marquette County were more than ready to open their doors with restrictions in place to keep worshippers safe.

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Negaunee, NORTHIRON Church in Ishpeming and Marquette’s St. Peter Cathedral have implemented restrictions and guidelines such as proper social distancing and sanitization stations as well as offering live-streamed services.

In Negaunee, Immanuel has returned to in-person gatherings in which pews are marked with green yarn to designate seating with social distancing in place and masks are required. Congregational songs are temporarily disbanded from services due to the issues of breath producing more aerosol and coffee hour has been halted. Other programs such as Bible Study continue to be offered via Zoom video conferencing but Vacation Bible School and Lutheran Bible Camp, which take place in the summer, have been canceled. Pastor Steve Solberg hopes to offer something online with those summer programs.

“One of the blessings that has come out of all of this is pushing us further into offering those online resources for people to worship and abide,” Solberg said. “So for those who are at high risk, or for whatever reasons are wishing to stay physically distanced at this point, that they’re still able to be able to be a part of things, part of the body of Christ.”

Immanuel is also limiting the number of people to 50 and under in each of its two large spaces, where people wishing to attend the service in person may sit in its Fellowship Hall that’s also physically distanced. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. and live-streamed; Monday services are at 6 p.m.

Social distancing is physically marked by green yarn on certain pews at Immanuel. (Photo courtesy of Pastor Steve Solberg)

The live-stream link can be found at immanuelnegaunee.weebly.com.

NORTHIRON Church in Ishpeming also began offering live-streamed services in March but has made adjustments returning to its in-person gatherings by closely monitoring its attendants, Pastor Travis Ryan said.

“There’s a lot of fear and even good reason in some cases for that fear obviously. But we’ve tried to continue a message of hope and positivity, not focus on the fear,” Ryan said.

Currently, services are at its Ishpeming location Sundays at 10 a.m. and are live-streamed at northiron.live, along with a 11:15 a.m. service. Construction for a new church space at the Westwood Mall has been halted, but demolition is completed and officials are awaiting building permits, Ryan said, adding that the L’Anse and Marquette locations have temporarily stopped services.

St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette has every other pew blocked off and each pew is marked with how many people can sit socially distanced from each family. The pews and church space are steadily being cleaned after every service.

John Fee, executive director of communications of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, said attendants are being asked to wear face masks and comply with the guidelines, and the attitude has been very receptive.

Church services are at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday services are at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. To tune into Bishop John Doerfler’s private Sunday-Masses at 10:30 a.m., visit youtube.com/theupcatholic or tune into the radio broadcast at wnoradio.com.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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