Local pastors react to shutdown of indoor worship services

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SAN DIEGO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that indoor operations at places of worship, among other public spaces, must shut down in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Rock Church has not opened its doors since the first shutdown and has been continuing their service entirely online. But other churches question whether the shutdown is constitutional.

“We are extremely disappointed,” says South Bay Pentecostal Church Pastor Arthur Hodges. “I think that would go without saying. We have been complying with every CDC guideline, every state guideline, every county health guideline and beyond.”

Hodges says his church, which is currently suing the state of California over the shutdown, just reopened under very strict health guidelines.

“In the U.S. Constitution, in the first amendment, the first of the Bill of Rights, is the free exercise of religion and that is an inviolable right,” Hodges said. “Inviolable means there is no exceptions whatsoever and so our constitutional rights are being violated.” 

Meanwhile, a pastor at the Rock Church says membership has doubled after shifting its services online. 

“Just be innovative,” Pastor Travis Gibson said. “How can we still connect? How can we still encourage? How can we still meet people’s needs? Technology is wonderful that we can do that and I think that we’re still going to press in, keep finding ways to be a blessing to the city of San Diego.”

The Rock Church says it online services have been working to spread a message of light in dark times.

“People want hope and they all have questions and they all do and we’re looking for an answer and they’re watching, they’re looking, they want to know what to do and that’s what we’ve seen so far,” Gibson said.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego has also suspended their indoor masses.

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