BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — Due to the COVID-19 closures many churches like the Riverlakes Community Church have resorted to moving their services online and pre-recorded since March 19.
Angelo Frazier, Pastor of care and outreach for Riverlakes Community Church, believes with proper guidelines they should be allowed to reopen along with other businesses.
“House of worship should be in Phase 2," said Frazier. "The current plan has some inconsistencies, where you can go to the mall, theater, and go to a restaurant; but you can’t go to a house of worship.”
Pastor Frazier addressed the Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday during public comment and encouraged them to allow churches to reopen.
As the church awaits approval to open its doors to the congregation, they’re already coming up with their COVID-19 prevention plan.
“I think when we do begin to open we will have service on the inside and then service outside where we can spread out,” Frazier said. “We will also still have service online for people who still aren’t ready. We need to give people time to get ready.”
Another Kern County pastor, who has spoken out is Chad Vegas of Sovereign Grace Church. Vegas says the governor has overstepped his power when it comes to houses of worship.
“The [state] government needs to cease its discriminatory actions right away and I mean they already have been warned by the Federal Department of Justice,” Vegas said. “It’s quite clear and there was a lawsuit that was just launched this afternoon by the Pacific Justice Institute against Gavin Newsom for violating the civil rights of churches.”
When asked about when houses of worship could reopen, Governor Gavin Newsom had this to say about the reopening process.
“As it relates to congregates coming back into the pews we are a few weeks away,” said Newsom. “We are working overtime with leaders in the community to come up with those guidelines and restore that capacity.”
On Thursday, County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop was asked in a press conference why churches are not included in phase 2 for Kern County.
“I am not sure how you answer it and I am not sure how you reconcile it,” said Alsop. “This is going to be up to the governor’s team and ultimately it’s a part of stage three, they are going to move to stage three in a matter of weeks.”