After months of lockdown, church buildings in Europe are beginning to fill with the sound of worship once again.
COVID-19 has resulted in many countries banning public gatherings, which have included worship gatherings.
In France, worship gatherings have now been allowed for three weeks. Evangelical Focus Europe (EFE) reports that about half of evangelical churches there have now reopened their buildings.
“Some pastors are scared about the amount of precautions they have to take, so they do not open the church," the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) tells EFE, and “some Christians are afraid too, so they do not go to church."
The EFE says that it will take time for some to become comfortable being around others once again.
In Switzerland, churches have been allowed to open since Pentecost. “We do not have precise numbers, there are those who immediately started, but the vast majority is still waiting one or two weeks more," the Swiss Evangelical Alliance tells EFE.
“If we look at the trends, mainline Protestant churches are re-starting their worship services faster that the free evangelical churches, which are being a bit more careful."
The alliance says that while there is a lot of joy surrounding the occasion there are also many who feel that returning to church doesn't make much sense given heavy restrictions. Those restrictions include a limit on singing, congregation sizes, and physical-distancing.
Spain has also begun slowly allowing church services. Depending on the region they are limited to either one-third or half their building capacity.
A pastor in Lugo told the Spanish news website Protestante Digital: “One thing is to hear a message on the internet, but communitarian worship is irreplaceable." That pastor says that one of the best moments was “to meet people who have given their life to Christ during this time of coronavirus crisis."
In Italy, one of the world's hardest-hit countries, church services have now been allowed for two weeks, and many jumped at the opportunity to worship together again.
“As soon as the service began, the emotion was really great. We could not hold back the tears; we could finally praise and bless the Lord together," one member of a church in Milano tells EFE.
Another member of a church in Bergamo says it was especially impactful to see their pastor preach in-person again after they had contracted, and recovered from, COVID-19.