ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Religious leaders from three evangelical churches met at a press conference in Canandaigua Sunday, saying they want churches open now and that church leaders have the plans necessary to maintain a safe environment for worshipers.
President Donald Trump is calling for churches to be deemed as essential services and some church pastors from Wayne, Ontario and Seneca Counties agree.
“The time to open our church is now, safely responsibly,” Reid Robbins said, organizer, Principal East Palmyra Christian School.
Robbins said the lockdown is threatening their first amendment right to freedom of religion.
“When the right to peaceful and safely assembly on church is forbidden by a politician any politician, that leader has miserable failed the people who he has sworn to protect,” Robbins said.
Beth Parlato, a family law attorney running for congress in New York’s 27th District, agrees that churches should be deemed essential services. That would allow places of worship to come up with their own safety plans that meet their individual needs.
“We’re going to hold services, I believes next Sunday outside and I think that we need to do it. Irrespectively of what the governor says honestly that’s how I believe I believe that constitutionally he can not continue to keep us closed,” Parlato said..
But for now, these church leaders will continue to follow the state mandate. While they do, they’re focusing on safety, including social distancing and regular sanitizing.
Some are even planning to move the congregation outside and to minimize the risk of contaminated surfaces, they will do away with church staples like bibles and collection plates.
Pastor Scott Van Kirk says he will hold his Sunday services at Calvary Chape in Senca Falls outside, for now.
“We are just here to encourage those who are in authority to take the church leaders as partners, as lead said in this process and to trust us just as we are trusting them to handled to crisis in a proper manner,” Van Kirk said.
Leaders say that high risk or elderly members will still need to stay home even if churches are allowed to reopen and most leaders you heard from will continue to do online services.