San Diego churches continue virtual services despite President's order to reopen immediately

Posted at 5:16 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 20:19:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Churches in San Diego are continuing to hold virtual services despite the President's order to open places of worship immediately. While some fight the constitutionality of the forced closures, others say they do not mind waiting for updated state and federal reopening guidelines.

It's another Sunday service to an empty hall at Rock Church in Point Loma, but Senior Pastor Miles McPherson says he still reaches a broad audience online.

"Ministry is happening," McPherson said. "We are having church every day. We're just not having service in this building."

Friday, faith leaders rejoiced when President Trump deemed houses of worship "essential."

"The Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the Governors," the President addressed.

But according to California's phased reopening plan, religious services fall under Phase 3. We are currently in Phase 2.

"We look forward to churches reopening in a safe and responsible manner," Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday. "And we have guidelines that we anticipated completing on Monday."

The South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista filed a lawsuit this month, fighting the Governor's stay-at-home-order, banning the opening of places of worship. But Friday, the Federal Appeals Court rejected their request. On Saturday, the church re-filed an emergency motion to the US Supreme Court to halt the Governor's ban.

"California has been discriminating against churches in their reopen plan," South Bay United Pentecostal Church Senior Pastor, Arthur Hodges said. "We should not be in the last stage. We should be in the first stage."

While the coronavirus pandemic has many groups tiptoeing around the idea of separation of church and state, McPherson says he is in no hurry to reopen physically.

"How services are going to happen is going to depend on the regulations from the CDC, but we will adjust accordingly," McPherson said. "We are not bothered by whatever restrictions are put on us because you can't restrict people helping other people, and that's what our focus is going to be."