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Local church leaders discuss reopening their buildings

Several pastors from churches in Ontario, Seneca and Wayne counties gather in Canandaigua on Sunday.
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Several pastors from churches in Ontario, Seneca and Wayne counties gather in Canandaigua on Sunday.

Leaders of some evangelical churches in the Finger Lakes got together on Sunday to talk about  the reopening of their churches during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pastors from churches in Ontario, Seneca and Wayne Counties gathered in Canandaigua for a news conference organized by Reid Robbins.

He is the Principal of East Palmyra Christian School, and he said that with all the discussion recently about religious gatherings, they wanted to talk about the relationship between politicians, pastors and the people.

The churches represented included the Bible Baptist Church of Sodus, Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes, and New Covenant Baptist Church in Canandaigua.

President Donald Trump has been pushing governors across the country to allow for the reopening of churches. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for religious and other gatherings to be limited to 10 people.

Robbins said what happens at the various churches is up to each individual pastor. He did say that the pastors are listening to what the political leaders and the experts have to say.

“What we’re doing is we’re looking at each one of them and saying, look, we’re partners, we’ve been partners with them the entire time, we’re going to continue to be partners, but we’re not going to cede the authority that God has given us to continue to meet with our flock and continue to care for them on a one to one basis,” Robbins said.

Robbins emphasized that the pastors will continue to be concerned about the health of their parishioners, and he said that they are looking at various ways of meeting CDC guidelines for social distancing, and also working to sanitize their churches on an ongoing basis.

In New York state, churches would not officially be fully reopened until Phase 4, and there’s no immediate word if all the pastors who gathered at Sunday’s news conference will all follow the state’s timetable, although, Robbins said in remarks delivered Sunday that, “The time to open our churches is now…safely, responsibly, with reverence and respect for all the lives represented by each congregation and house of worship.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.