The Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast is closed until Thursday, Jan. 21, because of a potential threat of violence against "liberal" churches, the Rev. Amy Fiorilli, its pastor, said.

Responding to a statement by the Maine Council of Churches, the church, decided to close to avoid putting anyone at risk, she said. The council stressed no threats had been made against specific churches, according to a story in The Bangor Daily News, but only relayed a message from the United Church of Christ, which had received “credible warnings” from police.

The church had been "pretty much closed" anyway because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. Fiorilli added that for the "the shock was that this was even a thing now," referring to the idea that churches would be targeted for violence. "These are strange times we are living in."

As far as she knows, no other churches in the area have closed in response to the message from Maine Council of Churches, she said.

The Rev. Dr. Kate Winters, co-pastor of The First Church in Belfast, United Church of Christ, said her church had received similar information about possible threats to churches regarded as liberal from the UCC Conference, but that the Montessori school that holds classes in its building will remain open, and the church will go ahead with an outdoor vigil planned for Tuesday evening, starting at 5 p.m.

"We're concerned, but not overly reacting," she said, adding that many people were counting on being able to attend the vigil.

"Our church head … is always Jesus, and Jesus was a nonviolent preacher," Winters said. "… We need to start talking more in whispers to each other than in screams."

Fiorilli said her church plans to reopen Thursday, Jan. 21, and the weekend warming center will be open from Saturday through Monday, from noon to 3 p.m. each day.