Clergy gather in Oakland, demand Gov. Newsom allow churches to reopen

Dozens of pastors from Northern and Southern California gathered in Oakland Thursday demanding Governor Gavin Newsom allow churches to reopen.

"We need to make sound, a noise. So much noise the governor will hear and know that churches are essential," said Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church in East Oakland.

Jackson hosted the gathering of pastors and representatives from different denominations.

They want the churches to open by May 31, the anniversary of the Pentecost, which marks the birth of the Christian church.

The pastors say they are frustrated because they have heard little about reopening.

"We ought to be included at least for phase two. And that is what we are here for today," said Jackson.

"I we are following all the safety regulations as the restaurants, tattoo parlors, and marijuana clinics, all of them are following, then why can't we open too?" said Bishop mike Barber of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.

The clergy say many of the churches have been working to establish procedures that are in compliance with public health directives.

"We have protocols in place that we are developing in how to restrict the number of people, practicing social distancing, wiping down pews between services," said Barber.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Newsom had the right to ban churches from opening during the Coronavirus outbreak.

One Southern California pastor said they may reopen with or without official consent.

"We will break civil law and will stand on our first amendment rights that we believe we have the freedom to express our faith and help people. We don't want to break the law." said Rev. Diego Mesa from Rancho Cucamonga

"I would have to consider it. Talk to my priests first. I would rather be on the same page as the government," said Barber.

Michael Pappas, head of the San Francisco Interfaith Council representing some 800 houses of worship, had a difference of opinion.

"I would admonish them to follow the orders of the public health officers. Nobody is rushing to open their doors right now. They just don't want to expose their congregants," said Pappas.

Many churches are conducting online services.

KTVU reached out to Newsom's office, but have not heard back.