LAKEWOOD, Colo. - After more than a year of abiding by COVID-19 restrictions, the newest announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is allowing a Colorado church to invite vaccinated parishioners into Sunday service without masks.
On Thursday, the CDC announced vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor settings.
Mile Hi Church Ministers Michelle Medrano and Josh Reeves said that after several meetings and discussions, they decided to allow vaccinated parishioners to attend service without their masks and without the need to social distance from one another.
"I told the congregation today, you know, it took some courage to put on the mask to take care of one another. But it also takes some courage to take it off, to listen to the scientists and also to listen to spirit in wanting to commune with one another," said Reeves.
On Sunday morning, many of the parishioners sat and listened without their masks while others opted to keep theirs on.
"We want people to feel personally free, but we also want people to feel responsible to their neighbors and their neighbors health as well," Reeves said.
Medrano told Denver7 Sunday morning was the first time the church was allowing vaccinated parishioners to embrace.
"Many of those hugs were very long hugs, very tearful hugs with people whispering me to me about how grateful they are to be back and how grateful they are to to hug again," she said.
The sanctuary at Mile Hi Church fits 1,400 people inside of it. However, despite Jefferson County moving to 'Level Clear' and doing away with capacity limits, the ministers said they planned on keeping their capacity to 400, for at least the next week.
"It's important to us to continue to create the environment, for people to take care of themselves," said Reeves.
Both Medrano and Reeves agreed they want to be careful about the following steps they take in order to keep parishioners safe.
"It's important to recognize that this pandemic isn't over. Many of us are getting vaccinated. But you think about our kids. You think about people with ongoing immune issues. It's so important to celebrate our successes, but also to be, you know, to be responsible for our future," said Reeves.
For the time being, Reeves said, Mile Hi Church will continue requiring parishioners to reserve a seat for Sunday service.