As houses of worship reopen, it’s important to realize church will be different.

Expect face masks for ushers and greeters, if not everybody. Look around for a drop box to deposit your offering because passing a plate might be unhealthy. Your favorite pew might be blocked off in order to ensure social distancing. In most churches, dispensers of hand sanitizer will be easier to find than a bulletin.

For some, it may be their first worship service with no hand shaking or no hugs.

Even for the healthy, all aspects of our lives have been altered by the coronavirus – including our time around the altar.

Don’t look for Sunday school or child care to be available. Don’t be surprised if social distancing makes the social aspects of public worship seem peculiar.

For two months as state restrictions led to cancellation of worship services, many of the faithful have continued to worship weekly in some virtual manner thanks to technology and innovative church leadership. But it’s not the same as gathering together with people of like precious faith.

The point here is returning to the building also will be different because of ongoing risks associated with this global pandemic.

Returning to in-person worship services and opening local church buildings is not as simple as unlocking the doors.

Some church members will be understandably apprehensive. Having followed healthy at home shelter-in-place advise for weeks on end, returning to worship with a crowd of friends will be unsettling.

People in high-risk groups, including the elderly and ill, would be wise to stay home and continue to enjoy worship through an electronic or video method.

To deal with all the changes and discomfort, it’s clearly going to require patience, kindness and consideration from all. Fortunately, those qualities should be in great supply among the church-going faithful.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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