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A coalition of South County churches issued a “statement of unity” that promises to continue to follow local public health guidelines for reopening, even though places of worship in neighboring counties have begun to open their doors again. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month issued guidelines for churches and places of worship to reopen with social distancing and other public health guidelines. Many churches in other counties have begun to reopen with these guidelines.

Santa Clara County, however, remains under a more strict shelter-in-place order than surrounding counties. As of June 1, churches are still prohibited from opening to gatherings of worshippers in Santa Clara County.

The coalition of 13 churches in Morgan Hill and Gilroy jointly sent a statement to the community May 25 regarding the safe reopening of churches. The statement is signed by the pastors of Community Christian Church, Crossroads Christian Center, Gilroy First Baptist Church, Iglesia Biblica de Morgan Hill, Jubilee Bridge Church, Morgan Hill Bible Church, Morgan Hill Presbyterian, New Hope Community Church, South Valley Community Church, The Anchor, The Foothills Church and West Hills Community Church.

The statement says that the churches will continue to operate in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as county public health directives.

The full statement reads:

In this time of unrest, swirling opinions, fear and confusion, we, the churches of the South Valley feel compelled to stand together in our response to how and when we reopen larger gatherings of our churches.

We want our church communities to know that we are committed to pursue Jesus’ call to unity and His command to be light in darkness. We are to be a faithful presence and prophetic witness to our valley. We stand together, united around our mission to connect people in vital relationship to Jesus Christ.

Through the centuries, Christ’s body, the Church, has worshipped Jesus in many locations through varied expressions. We have filled stadiums and gathered in twos and threes. The church is not a building or even a single gathering but a movement of God among His people around His Word in reverent worship, and that can happen anywhere. Even in this current crisis, the Church has not stopped, but in many ways has been even more vibrantly alive and committed to move forward on mission.

At this moment, we continue to gather in homes and online and are taking advantage of new opportunities to connect. We do look forward to gathering again in larger groups, while in the meantime, we see the Lord draw His people into places of dependence, healing, repentance, and lament.

We stand together as pastors and churches in our commitment to innovate and sacrifice so we can faithfully be congregations of worship and, in Christ’s Name, serve our neighbors while sharing the gospel message.

We agree to work together so that every person remains safe and the vulnerable populations in our churches and neighborhoods receive care. We agree to be good citizens as Scripture calls us to be.

We appreciate the complexity and unprecedented challenges our elected officials face. We desire that whatever plans are put forth by our county officials, that they will take into account both the threat of Covid-19 and the threatening social, emotional, and economic implications of a prolonged stay-at-home order.

We commit to continue ministering, worshipping and gathering in ways that serve the needs of our valley and our allegiance to Jesus Christ. We choose at this time to employ the safety protocols recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and County’s Health Department, making every effort to comply and work with our local, county and state officials. 

Using this framework above, each church will determine when and how they regather in ways that are specific to their unique circumstance. We will seek ways to learn from one another, innovate together, honor one another and be a collective witness of God’s love and salvation during a challenging time for our entire world.

We will continue to pray for our state and local leaders, for their health, safety, wisdom, and perseverance. We appreciate the countless hours they have worked. We pray that the flourishing of our valley will be valued over party politics and personal power by both the state and the church.

We stand together for the strength of the church and the health of our cities.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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