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Faith Leaders Back Karbassi's Proposal to Reopen Churches
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 4 years ago on
May 21, 2020

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Get ready to return indoor church services. A Fresno city councilmember is joining with faith leaders to figure out a way to get churches open ASAP.

District 2 representative Mike Karbassi is asking for a special council meeting. He wants to air a proposal allowing places of worship to reopen under social distancing rules.

On Thursday, Mayor Lee Brand announced an end to Fresno’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders effective Tuesday, May 26.

Churches, however, are not permitted to conduct indoor services. Drive-in services, however, are allowed following a legal victory last month by the California and Virginia-based Center for American Liberty.

Life Bridge Community Church

Kevin Foster of Life Bridge Community Church says, “LifeBridge Community Church values the safety and well-being of our congregation and of our great city.”

Foster outlines some of the differences he foresees in a post-pandemic reopening: “New methods such as hand sanitizing stations, reserving a seat in advance, wearing of masks, and contact-less greeting. We will be using ‘air high-fives’ in place of hugs and handshakes.”

Foster says it’s only fair.

“We’re asking that the same consideration that is applied to restaurants and retail stores, in regard to opening, be applied to churches as well,” he said.

Sikh Association of Fresno Gives Thumbs-up

“For centuries, if not longer, religious congregations have played critical roles in providing and supporting social and spiritual services within our communities,” said Gurpreet S. Maan of the Sikh Association of Fresno.

Maan added that there are elements of the Sikh faith that cannot be done online.

As a result, Maan said, “We are seeing a rise in the mental health and commotion in the community.”

Downtown Fresno Church Plans May 31 Reopening

Cornerstone Church Senior Pastor Jim Franklin announced this week that he will welcome his congregation back to his downtown Fresno church on Sunday, May 31.

“These doors, the doors of our churches across our city and across the state, should be, need to be and must be opened,” Franklin told ABC30.

More than 1,200 pastors in California signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom this week saying they would reopen May 31.

Attorney Robert Tyler said some pastors represent multiple churches. He expects as many as 3,000 churches across California could have in-person services on May 31.

“This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission,” he said.

The letter came one day after the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told Newsom in a letter that his stay-at-home order discriminates against churches and places an “unfair burden” on them.

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