– ATTENTION PASTORS & MINISTRY LEADERS! –

Ministries and churches across Colorado have been deeply, and adversely affected by the COVID-19 “shutdown” imposed by Governor Polis. In our opinion, corporate worship in our churches has been banned for too long, and we are asking  Pastors and Ministry Leaders to pledge publicly to re-start corporate worship in your churches on Pentecost Sunday, May 31.

– LETTER TO GOVERNOR POLIS –

The Honorable Jared Polis

Governor of Colorado

200 E. Colfax Ave., Rm. 136

Denver, CO 80203

Ms. Jill Hunsaker Ryan

Executive Director

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek South Drive

Denver, CO 80246

Dear Governor Polis and Ms. Ryan,

We the undersigned pastors of churches and leaders of ministries across the great state of Colorado are writing regarding the restrictions you have imposed upon our church and religious gatherings.

These are certainly unprecedented times with no proven path through them. We appreciate your position and the difficulty you are faced with. We don’t envy the burden you carry and realize there are not any easy answers. We have been praying for you.

We have voluntarily been cooperating with your “Stay at Home” and “Safer at Home” directives out of respect for your office, love for our fellow citizens and hope that this situation would end quickly.  But our participation has been voluntary.

Your orders prohibit public and private gatherings of more than ten individuals.  These prohibitions effectively ban all in person congregational worship.  The Safer at Home Order then exempts scores of “critical businesses” including oil and gas drillers, liquor stores, firearms stores, and marijuana dispensaries.  If our religious freedom means anything, it means that the State must treat churches at least as well as it does stores for guns, liquor, and marijuana.  

This is a violation of our constitutional rights to freely exercise our religion and to peaceably assemble.   The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].” The Constitution does not cease to exist during a pandemic, and as a matter of conscience, we can no longer abide by such restrictions.

The assembly of our congregations to worship together is not a luxury.  We as pastors and religious leaders are bound by Scripture to come together on the Lord’s day to worship.  As the Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25:  “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”[i]

Our communities are suffering.   Calls to suicide prevention centers are up as well as substance abuse. Stress is taking a toll on people’s mental and physical health, and there is spiritual sickness too. The Church is uniquely qualified – and called by God – to address these issues. It is short sighted to focus only on physical health and ignore financial, emotional, and spiritual health. The ministry of the Church is essential to the wellbeing of our society.  To fulfill this calling, we must come together with those we serve.

Therefore, we are respectfully informing you that on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020, in solidarity with thousands of other churches around the country, we will resume our church gatherings.   We hope that your orders and directives will accommodate our actions, but even if they do not, we will still exercise our constitutional rights to gather in obedience to our Lord’s commands.  We are not rebellious or lawbreakers, but, like Peter and the apostles long ago, we must “obey God rather than man.”

In taking this action, we, like you, understand that there are health risks associated with every choice.  We cannot guarantee that our congregants will meet every rule, but we commit to use our best efforts to comply with the Social Distancing Requirements in the Safer at Home Public Health Order, including six-foot social distancing (except for members of the same household), thorough handwashing or sanitizing, requiring the covering of sneezes and coughs with elbows or sleeves (not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and abstaining from shaking hands.  Many of our congregations will take precautions beyond these.

We are grateful that our State and Nation have long protected religious freedom, and that the new coronavirus does not suspend that freedom.  We are confident that our constitutional rights, as described in the enclosed letter from our attorneys at Nussbaum Speir Gleason PLLC, ensure that we may lawfully resume corporate worship.

Respectfully,


[i] Your conclusion that corporate worship of God is nonessential is contrary to our faith.  According to Scripture, believers in Jesus Christ are one body in Him, having partaken of One Spirit, and that just as the members of a human body provide critical functions necessary to the health and life of that body, so too are we as members of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.  The Lord Jesus Himself promised, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:20.   God’s Word commands us to engage in corporate and public prayer (1 Timothy 2:1), teaching and preaching (2 Timothy 4:2, Colossians 3:16), reading of scripture (1 Timothy 4:13), baptism (Matthew 28:18-20), the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-4) and the admonishment of one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).   While we appreciate the suggestion in your orders that we conduct online services, a “virtual” setting is no substitute for in-person community.

– READ THE SIGNED LETTER TO GOVERNOR POLIS –

– A Call To Action –