Churches and Counties Working Together for Public Health
COVID-19 has changed so much.Â But, the best of our lives have not changed. Â We are strong and a resilient people and heroes are emerging from our midst every day.Â We personally want to thank Governor Newsom for his steady leadership during this crisis.Â Further, we have dared to believe for a miracle and the fact that California has thus far been spared the most severe estimated destruction of the virus is an answer to the prayers of thousands.
Today, California has made very substantial progress in our health care preparedness and the 58 counties are experiencing very different realities, depending upon their population density and demographics. We believe that Counties, as the primary overseer of public health, are particularly well situated to provide health and safety guidelines for their residents. We support the Governor and the County Officials in their appropriate and constitutionally governed roles.
At the same time, we honor and affirm the inalienable rights granted to all of us by our Creator and recognized in our founding documents here in the United States. Further, we are clear that all citizens should have the freedom of assembly, the freedom of the press, and the freedom of religion guaranteed in our country. People of faith are committed to our communities and seek to provide love, compassion, and kindness wherever they live, gather, and serve. We believe the human need for community and worship is indeed essential in the human experience. The care of souls is a fundamental joy in the human experience. The federal government has recognized that clergy and churches are essential services, in alignment with our constitution.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has indeed brought many chilling realities, including the horrid loss of life, stress on our healthcare systems, and the economic and social disruptions caused by our stringent quarantine restrictions. Many of these circumstances have been bracing, but perhaps none more so than the specter of people suffering and dying alone. Funerals and Weddings, Births and Graduations, and public celebrations of all kinds are either deferred or experiencing in virtual isolation. The effect of our health and economic decisions may, in time, be eclipsed by the spiritual and social impacts of our choices these last many weeks.
It is into this reality that we plead with the Governor and County officials to understand that churches and religious activities of clergy are essential services. We trust spiritual leaders to be wise stewards of their faith communities and establish appropriate and health sensitive parameters for gatherings. We believe churches in each county in California should be allowed to work with appropriate county authority to establish parameters for worship services, funerals, weddings, and a host of other important activities that build up the human spirit. We recognize grocery stores as essential; we believe that the Bread of Life is fundamentally even more important.
Thank you Governor Newsom and State and County officials for hearing us. We pray for you and pledge to work with you in the implementation of responsible guidelines for the essential religious observances which feed the human spirit as we engage in this war against an unseen but deadly enemy.