SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — As some counties move into the most restrictive ‘purple tier,’ worshipping indoors becomes prohibited as part of state and county orders. But some area churches are opting to continue hosting their congregations inside.
In Stanislaus County, a pastor with Big Valley Church can be seen in a video announcing for this upcoming weekend, the church in Modesto and Ceres would still host indoor services.
Some Sacramento County churches are following suit despite tier restrictions barring them from worshipping inside. The purple tier allows places of worship to host outdoor gatherings or online services.
In Fair Oaks, Grace Bible Church sent a letter to their members and called assembly an ‘essential duty’ for those without health risks. In the note, Grace Bible’s pastor says, “the spiritual health of the Body of Christ is greater priority than the concerns over the health of the physical body.”
It’s also noted that the church would cooperate with the county “if reasonable,” but “where those things conflict, we will be choosing our spiritual priorities.”
Grace Bible Church plans to have outdoor accommodations or online options for those who don’t want to risk attending in person.
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But this ‘leap of faith,’ as some would call it, has drawn mixed reactions.
“I think it’s kind of careless,” said Danny Stokes. But Lori Peterson felt differently, “The churches have a right to stay open.”
Sacramento County Public Health is urging churches to rethink this move. Dr. Olivia Kasirye said, “My plea to those churches is to think of their congregations and as leaders in their communities – think of what they can do to protect.”
Dr. Kasirye called out past church outbreaks and said it can be a high-risk environment, especially as community transmission trends upward.
Though other churches, like Capital Christian Center, is opting to stay online for now and follow county protocols.
“If we can help bring health to our community, the quicker our whole community gets back to health,” said Pastor Rick Cole at Capital Christian.
Though Cole said he can understand why churches may be making the decision to stay open in person, as mental health and financial hardships take their toll on the community.
According to their websites, both Big Valley Church in Stanislaus County and the Grace Bible Church of Fair Oaks do plan on following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines, while also limiting the number of people who can attend.