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'ReOpen Church Sunday' kicks off with Texas megachurch leading the way: 'No one-size-fits-all'

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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.

Florida-based law firm Liberty Counsel launched a website, ReOpenChurch.org, last month after President Trump announced the "Opening Up America Again" plan on April 16.

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.

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"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."

Members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Billings, Montana sing a hymn during a service Sunday, April 26, 2020. Montana has begun a phase-in reopening of businesses and gathering places as infection rates from the coronavirus decline in the state. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Billings, Montana sing a hymn during a service Sunday, April 26, 2020. Montana has begun a phase-in reopening of businesses and gathering places as infection rates from the coronavirus decline in the state. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

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.

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Churchgoers attend a service for the first time in about a month at Dry Creek Bible Church in Belgrade, Mont., April 26. Montana took its first, halting step toward reopening on Sunday as churches resumed services and a general stay-at-home order expired. (Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

Churchgoers attend a service for the first time in about a month at Dry Creek Bible Church in Belgrade, Mont., April 26. Montana took its first, halting step toward reopening on Sunday as churches resumed services and a general stay-at-home order expired. (Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

"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."

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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.

Using social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Pat O'Brien of St.Pius X Catholic Church leads a Eucharistic procession through a neighborhood near his church in San Antonio, April 27. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said churches and other places of worship will be able to expand capacity as long as they continue to use safe distancing practices. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Using social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Pat O'Brien of St.Pius X Catholic Church leads a Eucharistic procession through a neighborhood near his church in San Antonio, April 27. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said churches and other places of worship will be able to expand capacity as long as they continue to use safe distancing practices. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

As part of Crossroads' "Plan for Reopening," the church is requiring people to pre-register, choosing a venue and time. A few services are already full this weekend.

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."

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Candice Hillenbrand, of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and Ending Hunger OKC, reaches for an orange to add to a produce bag at a food give-away at Christ Temple Community Church, April 28, in Oklahoma City, as the need for food assistance grows during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Candice Hillenbrand, of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and Ending Hunger OKC, reaches for an orange to add to a produce bag at a food give-away at Christ Temple Community Church, April 28, in Oklahoma City, as the need for food assistance grows during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

"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.

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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.