'Like a reunion': SF's iconic Grace Cathedral reopens for indoor worship after 14 months

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There was another milestone on the road to reopening Sunday as San Francisco's iconic Grace Cathedral held its first-in person mass in 14 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Returning as a church community was an emotional moment for many.

Organ music echoed through the rafters of the cathedral, but this time, there were people in the pews to listen.

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"It feels a little like a reunion, right? It's getting back to normal," said Grace parishioner Regina Walton.

Walton was welcoming members back.

Indoor, in-person worship is back, 14 months after Grace was forced to close its doors due to the pandemic.

VIDEO: Mt. Davidson cross lights up San Francisco for 98th Easter
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In 1923, an Easter tradition was born on the top of Mount Davidson in San Francisco. Nearly 100 years later, volunteers continue to light the cross to help usher in the Easter holiday.

We spoke to Valerie Crane Dorfman in 2020 as she watched a live stream of Grace's Easter service from home. For her, being back inside the cathedral Sunday was beyond spiritual.

"I'm excited, emotional and close to tears, I feel the energy, it's beautiful," said Dorfman.

Bishop Marc Andrus got emotional, thanking members for staying home during the height of the pandemic.

"You have kept each other and your neighbors safe, you have literally saved lives," said Bishop Andrus.

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The service was still live-streamed for those not yet comfortable with returning. But for those who came, face masks and social distancing were required.

Advanced reservations were also required, as only 200 people are allowed inside the cathedral, which can normally seat 2,000.

Grace has now had to close its doors, twice. The first was in 1918 during the Spanish Flu, and twice they've reopened.

"Its a great celebration of the end of COVID I think," said Stephen Bensch from Berkeley.

For many, it was a homecoming on Nob Hill.

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