(The Center Square) – California entered phase 2 of its reopening plan Friday, but that excluded houses of worship being able to hold in-person services. Regardless, several thousand church leaders say they plan to reopen by May 31 no matter what the governor says.
California Church United, a network of 3,000 California churches, representing 2.5 million members, announced it plans to open May 31, instead of waiting until the state implements phase 3, which includes allowing modified reopening of houses of worship.
Many churches are reopening nationwide on May 31, a date specifically chosen because it falls on the Day of Pentecost, a significant date on the Christian calendar. Some plan to open Sunday, May 10.
“Our churches are part of the answer, not part of the problem,” Danny Carroll, senior pastor at Water of Life Community Church, said at a news conference held at the Water of Life mega church in Fontana, Calif.
“We’re an essential part of this whole journey and we’ve been bypassed … kicked to the curb and deemed nonessential,” he added.
Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the work of the faith community committed to helping the homeless, seniors and the poor during his Thursday news conference.
“Our fear is simply this,” Newsom said. “Congregations of people from far and wide coming together in a closed space at a large scale remains a point of concern and anxiety for us. We are working on guidelines for physical distancing and working with faith leaders talking about unique conditions in their own facilities. Nothing is etched in stone.”
The fear doesn’t appear to be based on the data the state is reporting, critics note. As of May 8, 62,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, representing .0015 percent of the state’s 39.5 million people. Among them, 2,585 people, or .00006 percent of the population, have died.
Matt Brown, pastor of Sandals Church in Riverside, decried the governor’s decision to deem churches “nonessential.”
“He didn’t ask us. He overstepped and he’s overreached,” Brown said. “And he needs to step back and he needs to declare that the church is an essential part of what we do as Americans, as what we do as Californians.”
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Editors note. This post was written by Damian Dovarganes and published at The Center Square. Title changed by PNP News
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