FRAMINGHAM – Although Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced houses of worship could re-open on May 18, two churches that offer services in Framingham have been told they still have to wait.
Before the COVID-19 closures of schools and houses of worship, Faith Community Church of Hopkinton rented space from the Framingham Public Schools for the use of Walsh Middle School auditorium on Sundays and Connect Church out of Ashland had rented space at Cameron Middle School for their Sunday services.
“We are not planning to open our schools to accommodate satellite church services at this time,” said Framingham Superintendent of Schools bob Tremblay to SOURCE last week when emailed about the two churches.
“At this time we are unsure when we will be reopening our facilities and as such we will not issue permits until it is safe to do so based on guidance from the City’s Department of Public Health,” said Tremblay to the news media outlet.
The Framingham Health Director would need to sign off on the churches re-opening in the schools.
“Currently, our permits have been cancelled and there is no new information on future permits. We totally understand this. We are also working under the assumption that school access may be limited or restricted in the coming months. We want children and staff at schools to be safe and would not want to endanger anyone so we understand if this is the case. We are exploring other rental opportunities in Framingham at this time,” said Faith Community Church Framingham campus Pastor Dorian Botsis
SOURCE reached out to Connect Church for a statement but none was received when this report was published.
“Since March, both our Hopkinton and Framingham campuses have closed in-person services. For both campuses, we have held our services online and broadcast them through our website (faithma.org) and Facebook Page (Faith Community Church). We are continuing to do this for the foreseeable future,” said Pastor Botsis.
Faith Community Church averages around 800 people for both campuses. Framingham has about 100 people and Hopkinton about 700.
The Framingham campus had one service at Walsh, while the Hopkinton campus had two services in the Hopkinton building.
“Even though churches are able to meet in person, out of an abundance of caution and to protect people, especially the vulnerable, we are not meeting in person,” said Pastor Botsis.
“While we meet virtually, our services are broadcast at 9 a.m. on Sunday with live interactions through chat services, and the service recording is available at any time during the week,” said Pastor Botsis.
“The majority of our congregation participate in smaller groups where they connect with each other, learn more about how to put their faith into practice and pray together. Most of these smaller groups (which we call Faith Groups) have continued to meet using virtual software media to connect. Our current plans for the summer are to continue these virtual meetings and to follow the governor’s guidance as we progress through the phases of reopening. We have a task force working on what reopening in-person services will look like and when that might happen. We have no proposed date for reopening in person services at present,” said Pastor Botsis.
“Both Connect Church and Faith Community Church have been outstanding community partners in providing clothing and food security for Framingham families before and during the current pandemic in addition to the fees that they pay for the use of our facilities,” said Tremblay.
“We are exploring how we might continue to serve the local community in the summer.
“Our desire is to live out our faith in radical love and generosity and watch what Jesus does as a result. We welcome anyone to join us as they too seek to learn more about faith, live it out and make a difference in the world,” said pastor Botsis.
Tremblay said rental fees when the churches were allowed to have service were deposited into the Building & Grounds revolving accounts which were used to maintain the district’s facilities.
Those funds were tapped “to help offset the FY21 operating budget given the anticipated shortfall of state revenues,” said Tremblay.
Photo courtesy of Faith Community Church social media