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BOSTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A coalition of faith leaders from across the Commonwealth is asking Governor Baker to designate places of worship as "essential" and to allow them to open their doors during the first phase of reopening on May 18th.
The group of more than 260 pastors assured the Governor that they are prepared to protect the health and safety of their congregations and communities by following social distancing and other guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
In the letter, the group expressed disappointment that businesses like marijuana dispensaries, liquor store and abortion clinics were deemed essential and houses of worship, which serves millions in the Commonwealth even during times of crisis, were not.
“Your order of March 23rd would forbid us from gathering together to worship God, but the word of God commands us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together," the letter reads. "We have done our best to temporarily adapt to extraordinary circumstances, but this must not continue.”
The Pastors also noted that despite there being 8,000 churches in the Bay state, that they have no representation on the Reopening Advisory Board.
The letter, which you can read in it's entirety here, was sent to the governor's office Thursday. No response from that office yet.
Governor Baker this week said the state "still has a lot of work to do" before life can return to normal, adding that all decisions about the gradual reopening of the economy will be data driven.
In a statement to the Boston Globe, the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development writes, "The Administration is thankful for the individuals, businesses and organizations that are playing their part to stay home, stop the spread and protect at risk populations, and the Administration is working to return to a new normal as safely and as soon as possible.”
The 17-member Reopening Advisory Board consists of business executives, public health experts and municipal leaders. They are expected to deliver a report on a phased reopening plan in time for that May 18th date.
Listen to WBZ's James Rojas (@jamesrojaswbz) full report here: