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Some churches stay open despite being urged to go online

Governor Jared Polis amended a public health order to allow churches to remain open after some made First Amendment claims during state-wide shutdown


Several Colorado churches are still open to the public and holding services as the highly-contagious novel coronavirus continues to spread across the state. 

“We are NOT canceling any service due to the covid-19 virus, snow, hail, wind, locust or any other natural or supernatural event with the exception of the rapture. If Christ comes to call us home, whoever is left behind can do what they want,” a message reads on the Messiah Baptist Church website.

Initially, a public health order signed by Governor Jared Polis decreed no gatherings of ten or more people can occur, which included in-person church services. 

Under that order, people still gathered for a packed Sunday service on March 22nd in Colorado Springs, according to KRDO-TV.  

The Colorado Springs Fellowship church made a First Amendment claim. Four days later Polis amended his public health order which now allows places of worship to stay open. 

“Houses of worship may remain open, however, these institutions are encouraged to implement electronic platforms to conduct services whenever possible or to conduct smaller (10 or fewer congregants), more frequent services to allow strict compliance with Social Distancing Requirements,” the amended order said. 

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On Thursday, Polis' office released this statement about the public health order:

"The order is clear and we ask everyone to follow. It's important to remind people that this executive order is the law and voluntary compliance is the key to success. Our goal is to save lives and in order to do that, we need to do it together. The Governor is working closely with the faith community and legal counsel to identify ways Coloradans can celebrate Easter, such as drive-thru services."

The Colorado Springs Fellowship church said in a follow-up story with KRDO it would practice social distancing. 

At the Zion Baptist Church in Denver, Reverend Frank Davis is still holding in-person services. 

The church’s website says a custodian is doing everything possible to keep the church clean. 

 “.....we are using safe measures when we assemble in the Church.  We ask that there be spacing with our seating and avoiding physical contact,” the website said. “If you are uncomfortable in attending any of our Worship Services, please stay home.” 

Davis declined to do an interview with 9NEWS, but over the phone he made it a point to say liquor stores and dispensaries have been allowed to stay open. He also said most parishioners are deciding to stay home. 

Pastor William Ingram of Messiah Baptist Church declined to speak with 9NEWS but added a lengthy statement on the church’s website addressing its efforts to keep the building clean during services. 

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