190 pastors around Nevada ask Gov. Sisolak to amend Phase 1

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 10:06 PM PDT
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Places of worship are deemed non-essential in Governor Steve Sisolak's Phase 1 approach to reopen the state of Nevada.

That hasn't sat well with pastors around the state.

190 of them signed a letter to send to the governor asking him to reopen the doors to their places of worship.

Reno Christian Fellowship has had its sanctuary empty since mid-March. But leaders at the church hope the room will soon be filled with members of their congregation.

"Somehow we're considered a group that can't be considered with restaurants and other groups and something seems wrong with that," said Brent Brooks, Reno Christian Fellowship's senior pastor. "We've in essence been ruled as non-essential yet we provide spiritual, emotional, financial support for all sorts of people."

At Friday's press conference KOLO 8 News Now's Terri Russell asked Governor Sisolak about the letter.

"(Churches) can clearly have services in the cars and parking lots. I know a lot of them have done that," Governor Sisolak said in response to the letter. "If they can come forth with a plan to have outdoor services that's fine. We're looking at options that might be available but Phase 1 is what it is right now and we're not going to move anything in Phase 1."

The news is disheartening for Brooks and the other pastors who signed the letter. The staff at Reno Christian Fellowship plans to do everything they can to keep their congregation safe for when they can reopen.

"I bought nine thermal scanners. We will scan people and their temperatures as they come in," Brooks said of the measures he and his staff will take when Reno Christian Fellowship's doors reopen. "We will require masks. We will require proper seating. But why can't we be at 50% capacity like restaurants if we can do essential seating? That's our goal."

Brooks and his team have been holding sermons online. They'll continue to do that. The announcement of Phase 2 - which still hasn't been scheduled - will be the churches' next hope at returning to normalcy.

Brooks said his church is doing well financially. But he thinks smaller churches - like small local businesses - won't make it through this pandemic.