Hispanic evangelical leader and Sacramento megachurch pastor Samuel Rodriguez and a Christian college president have called on California leaders to allow churches to reopen their doors as places of worship as the pace of new coronavirus cases has slowed down in recent days.
“We are mindful of our nation’s proud heritage of religious liberty, established from its founding as a place of refuge and respect for people of faith,” the leaders wrote in an open letter.
“Today, we join together respectfully urging California’s governor, county supervisors, mayors and other civic leaders to support the reopening of church gatherings in ways that are sensitive to public health concerns as well as providing for the fundamental freedoms so richly encouraging to personal and societal well-being and ensconced in our founding documents.”
Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor of New Season Church, along with William Jessup University President John Jackson published the letter Wednesday to provide an outline for how churches across the state should slowly start to reopen to full capacity once they are able.
The letter comes as countless churches in California and across the nation have halted in-person services and moved services online in recent weeks to obey social distancing orders aimed at combating the spread of the virus.
Some churches in the state have filed lawsuits over California Gov. Gavin Newsome’s stay-at-home order banning large gatherings and similar county-level orders that are preventing them from gathering for worship.
“We are grateful to our governmental leaders and have been in increased corporate and personal prayer for them throughout these days,” the letter from Rodriguez and Jackson says. “We understand that various counties in California have different circumstances and are mindful that state, county, and local guidance will provide varying public health frameworks that church leaders can utilize in addition to any national guidelines that are provided.”
In the letter, Rodriguez and Jackson say they want to work with the state, county and local leaders. They add that they are “mindful of the importance of doing so with mutual respect in alignment with our convictions around Romans 13 and other appropriate biblical passages” calling on Christians to obey government authorities.
“We believe that churches can and will be responsible as members of our community utilizing the following guidelines here in California,” the leaders contend.
The letter suggests that churches utilize “drive-in resources” for the first part of May as well as minimize public gatherings for the first two weekends of the month. The letter advises churches to move to 50% of building capacity in the last two weeks of May.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith