Church choirs return to Twin Cities after being silenced by COVID – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The sights and sounds of worship are returning to churches now that COVID-19 infection is on the decline in Minnesota.

It has been a long two years for many congregations, including that of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

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“We had to pivot like all other churches and religious communities, so that we could include people and continue to worship together,” Pastor Judy Zabel said.

She says members turned to their computers, where services took place over Zoom to try to fill the void of not meeting in person.

“It’s not the same as being in the room and hugging someone after worship and sharing a cup of coffee,” Zabel said. “It’s not the same thing.”

The closure of churches meant that in-person music was silenced. Mark Squire, worship and fine arts director for the church, said it was a difficult time for choir members.

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“For a year or two we just met on Zoom,” he said, adding that the choir always made the best of the situation. “We had distant people who phoned in their singing and it was electronically mixed, so it was just a completely different animal.”

When the congregation returned to worship in person, the choir sang at the back of the church and wore masks. However, for two Sundays, the choir has been singing in front of the church with all members fully vaccinated.

This coming Sunday will be the first time the choir has sung without a mask since the start of the pandemic. This marks a new beginning for the church which, like many others, has been forever changed due to COVID.

“But we are moving forward,” Zabel said. “We listen to the spirit, we listen to each other.”

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Many Twin Cities church choirs are expected to return for Easter or shortly thereafter. Several of the churches contacted by WCCO-TV said they would still encourage social distancing and masks if it made congregants more comfortable.

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