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Some Sacramento County churches plan to defy COVID restrictions

The church says it will "cooperate with the county as long as it is reasonable" but adds "where those things conflict, we will be choosing our spiritual priorities."

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At Grace Bible Church in Fair Oaks, indoor services will remain open in defiance to state coronavirus health orders.

Sacramento County fell back into the COVID-19 "purple tier" of the California Department of Public Health guidelines Friday. The purple tier guidance does not allow for indoor worship.

An email from Grace Bible Church to congregants said, "the spiritual health of the Body of Christ is greater priority than the concerns over the health of the physical body."

"I would like to just request they think about their congregation because we have had outbreaks in churches. And with the increase in the number of cases the risk to their congregants increases," said Sacramento County Health Officer Olivia Kasirye.

Grace Bible said in its email it will limit attendees to 100, practice social distancing, wear masks, and more. It also says it will "cooperate with the county as long as it is reasonable." But adds, "Where those things conflict, we will be choosing our spiritual priorities."

"As soon as we all get back into doing what we're supposed to be doing, then we'll soon be able to get back into the red tier," Kasirye added.

One of the larger churches in Sacramento County, the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento said it will continue to follow health guidelines by being "a good neighbor."

"So, it's not personal. It's just that we're all going through this together," Pastor Rick Cole said.

Cole has been pastor at Capital Christian Center for 25 years. They've been holding services indoors for six weeks with social distancing with a maximum of 100 congregants. But because of the new restrictions, the church will return to online services.

"It saddens me a little bit that there's some who feel like, I think what they feel like is its a religious liberty issue or religious persecution issue and that's not the way we see it," Cole said.

"I think that people do need to realize that these are health officer orders and there is that potential that there could be additional enforcement. We don't want to go down that road. We want to be able to work with everybody," Kasirye warned.

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