FRAMINGHAM – During this pandemic, when City Hall has been closed to the public since March 17, and houses of worship were closed for months, Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer said she has been meeting with religious leaders.
In total, Mayor Spicer has had five meetings with religious leaders since March, according to Kelly McFalls, the City’s Public Information Officer.
While there is not a standing call each week at a specific time or day, McFalls said the calls are “scheduled depending on events and people’s availability – it has generally been every week or two weeks, depending.”
The sessions with the Framingham Mayor and the religious leaders are not recorded, said the City’s Public Information Officer.
The calls with religious leaders “helps the Mayor know what the faith community needs to know from the state in terms of opening safely etc., and she takes those questions and concerns into her calls with Lt. Gov. and Governor etc,” said the City’s spokesperson.
“There’s been lots of discussion and exchange around coordinating and expanding food insecurity assistance,” said the City about the Mayor’s regular calls with religious leaders.
“Last week, we had (Framingham Health Director) Dr. (Sam) Wong join the call to answer any questions about opening in phase 1, from cleaning to singing,” said McFalls, to SOURCE.
Under the Governor’s order, houses of worship could re-open on May 18. However, there are strick guidelines.
Many churches, temples, and mosques held their first services in weeks the week of May 22-23.
“It was a painful decision, and it is a faithful decision. As we have learned more about COVID-19, we have realized how dangerous it is for a group of people to gather in an enclosed space, talking, singing and greeting one another. We are also aware that a large proportion of people in our congregation fall into one of the “high risk groups” who are urged to continue to shelter in place. Our decision is our own—based on input from our congregational small-group gatherings, a recommendation from the staff, and Council’s discernment. Our decision also aligns with the guidance of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ,” wrote Edwards Church’s Rev. Debbie Clark to her congregation earlier this month.
Rev. Clark is one of the 20 religious leaders Mayor Spicer has invited to be on her religious leader calls.
The list includes: Brian Faria, Taha Siddiqui, Hannah Rogers, Rev. J Anthony Lloyd, Jason Rutherford, Linda R. McKenzie, Lucy Marshall, Dorian Botsis, Angie Gerrard, Lucy Marshall, Pastor Anselmo, Dan Walker, Manny Oliveria, Bernard Reese, Michael Henry, Manoel Oliveira, Anselmo Seite da Silva, Joe Faulk, and the Rabbi at Temple Beth Am,” according to the City’s spokesperson.
McFalls said one of the outcomes of these calls was the City of Framingham and the Spicer administration participating in the “Interfaith program #HopeforFramingham on May 17.”
McFalls said “we always encourage clergy to let us know if there is anyone they know in the community who would like to be invited.”
The City spokesperson said while the names above are invited not all attend each meeting.