Pastors say they’re essential, plan to reopen their churches on May 31

Earlier this week, the Justice Department sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, warning he may be violating the Constitution by keeping churches and religious groups from gathering as part of stay-at-home orders. 

For weeks, religious leaders have been pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow them to reopen their places of worship. Some have even openly defied him. On Mother’s Day, a parishioner attending a service at a church in Palermo exposed nearly 200 congregants to coronavirus.

Now more than 1,200 pastors have signed a petition declaring themselves essential and saying they’ll open their doors on May 31. That’s Pentecost, the day the Christian church began. It’s an important holiday for Christians. 

It’s all sparked a conversation about religious freedom and the importance and necessity of faith during these turbulent times.

Rob McCoy, senior pastor at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, is among the clergy members who signed that petition.

Pastor Rob McCoy is planning to reopen his chapel on May 31. Credit: Godspeak Calvary Chapel. 

"Our faith is practiced in community. 'Communion,' the word itself, which is our sacrament, is community. … I don't expect everyone to agree or even completely understand it, but this is our life," he says. 

How exactly does McCoy plan to reopen? "In accordance with CDC standards, we have to operate less than 100 in our 18,000 square foot facility. Masks will be provided. They will be encouraged. But of course, they're not demanded," he says.