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Churches have gotten creative in how they hold services throughout the coronavirus pandemic closures, but as the country begins to reopen, at least one group is calling for in-person services this weekend.
Now it is the force behind "ReOpen Church Sunday," and event on Sunday May 3 aimed at starting the process of safely reopening churches with some form of in-person limited service across the country.
"It's beyond time that churches should have some form of in-person services," Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder and ordained pastor, told Fox News.
"Churches have always been essential, now more than ever, whether government recognizes them or not. They've been discriminated against with these orders."
The law firm has represented several pastors and churches in defiance of orders, in various states, including Kentucky and Louisiana.
"I don't think any of these restrictions on churches – and we've reviewed thousands – are constitutional," he notes. "They can't direct them to have online service or prohibit a drive-in service while people are in Walmart... that kind of unequal treatment is exactly what Attorney General Barr is speaking against."
As of Friday morning, the U.S. has seen more than a million coronavirus cases and at least 63,000 deaths.
"This weekend is not a magic time frame and there is no one-size-fits-all template," Staver added, "but the reason we chose this weekend for 'ReOpen Church Sunday' is because it is the beginning of the week of the National Day of Prayer."
The federal government's first phase of reopening begins Friday and, as Liberty Counsel points out, that includes houses of worship.
"We have lots of churches that are starting to move forward this Sunday, large and small," Staver said.
Liberty Counsel is using Crossroads Church outside of Dallas, Texas, as a resource with a list of suggested worship options and safety precautions.
The church is encouraging anyone with "any concerns or health issues" to stay home and watch online. They are not offering nursery service nor children's or youth ministry at this time.
"Our staff and leaders responded immediately and with resiliency that enabled us to continue to minister effectively and powerfully to thousands of people," Barry Cameron, senior pastor of Crossroads, tweeted this week about the reopen. "Now it's time for us to respond again, and we are."
"My hope is that we begin to turn the corner and I think we're seeing that with pastors and churches that are beginning to open this weekend," Staver concluded.
He points out the jump in mental health issues, suicides, reported domestic violence calls, and general stress levels as people are locked in their homes with many losing jobs.
"There's no place for them to go and get help," he said, which is why he recommends churches not only open on weekends but also during the week to offer financial help and other resources without jeopardizing the health and safety of individuals.