Church Choirs Returning In The Twin Cities After Being Silenced By COVID

2 April 2022

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

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

“We had to pivot just as every other church and faith community had to, so that we could include people and continue to worship together,” said Pastor Judy Zabel.

She says members turned to their computers, where services were held over Zoom in an attempt to fill the void of not meeting in person.

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

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

“For a year or two, we were just meeting on Zoom,” he said, adding that the choir still made the most of the situation. “We had remote people phoning in their singing and it was mixed electronically, so it was just a completely different animal.”

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

This coming Sunday will be the first time the choir sings without masks since the start of the pandemic. It marks a new beginning for the church that, like many others, has been forever changed because of COVID.

“But we’re moving forward,” Zabel said. “We’re listening to the spirit, we’re listening to one another.”

Many choirs in Twin Cities churches are set to return for Easter or shortly thereafter. Several of the churches WCCO-TV contacted said that they would still encourage social distancing and masks if they make worshipers more comfortable.

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