Since Liberty Counsel provided suggested worship options and safety measures at ReOpenChurch.org that can be modified to fit each church, pastors and church leadership have begun reopening in-person worship services.
A coalition of about 3,000 California pastors are committed to beginning in-person services on Pentecost, which is on May 31. Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter, and it marks the birth of the Christian Church when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and followers of Jesus (Acts 2:1-47). The first Pentecost occurred on the Jewish holiday called the “Feast of Harvests” (Exodus 23:16), or the Feast of Weeks” (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10: 2 Chronicles 8:13). The Jewish holiday occurred on the 50th day after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16), which today is called Shavuot.
The California pastors signed a petition stating: “As ministers of the Gospel, we have complied with the orders of governing bodies to cease meeting in-person as has been our practice for nearly 2000 years since the first Day of Pentecost. We respect the governing authorities and their role in public safety. However, the governing authorities have suspended our meetings indefinitely, refusing to provide a date upon which we can lawfully commence our practice of worshiping God together in our houses of worship. While we are thankful to the governing authorities for the significant efforts made to protect the public from COVID-19, the remaining threat of COVID-19 is outweighed by the severe restrictions upon the free exercise of our religion that we deem ‘essential.’ We are committed to public safety and will follow reasonable guidelines established and applied to similarly situated organizations” (emphasis added).
About 200 pastors from churches all over Virginia also sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam. A group of 260 Massachusetts pastors sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker requesting that they be labeled as essential and be included in the first phase of re-opening plans on May 18. The signers include a handful of members of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, which represents more than 1,000 churches from 18 Protestant and Orthodox denominations across the state.
They wrote: “We have seen how marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and abortion clinics have all been deemed “essential,” but churches and other places of worship have not….We are capable of following the guidelines for social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, just as other businesses Massachusetts has deemed essential. We are able to take the same precautions that their staff and customers have taken…Your order of March 23rd would forbid us from gathering together to worship God, but the word of God commands us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” the ministers wrote. “We have done our best to temporarily adapt to extraordinary circumstances, but this must not continue.”
Romanian pastors also sent a letter to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on May 2 announcing they were opening their churches for in-person services on May 10, with proper and extensive social distancing and safety precautions. The six pastors who signed the letter, along with Horatio Mihet, Chief Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, once lived under the heavy hand of a totalitarian regime in Communist Romania. They are painfully familiar with government-suppressed religious freedom and the jailing of pastors and Christians as criminals for merely following their religious teachings to meet and preach the gospel.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Thousands of churches across the nation have begun the process of reopening with some form of in-person services while also protecting the health and safety of all involved. It’s past time for the government officials to release their tyrannical grip and ‘Let My People Go!’”