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Northern California Churches Defy Governor's Order To Close Indoor Operations

ROCKLIN (CBS13) – It's the first Sunday church congregations are heading back to their houses of worship after the governor ordered counties on the monitoring list to shut down those indoor operations.

The Pioneer Baptist Church's pastor is one of the pastors who took to Facebook to tell people that there would be in-person services on Sunday.

"I was hoping on one hand that a bunch of people would show up and hoping that no one would show up. It was a nervous time," said Pastor Kyle Conley, of Pioneer Baptist Church.

Conley said it's necessary for them to hold service.

"There's a social aspect to that, a spiritual aspect to that, a mental health aspect to that we believe is our God-given right to do. It's also our obedience," Conley said. "We're commanded to assemble together."

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The other is Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, which says the church is essential and it's their right to hold service despite the recent order.

"We feel like what we need to do is to abide by what the word of God says and, you know, we have a First Amendment right to worship," said Pastor Greg Fairrington, of Destiny Christian Church.

Fairrington said he feels his church is essential and it needs to be open for his folk.

"They obviously wanted us to do something different, but we have a conviction in our heart," Fairrington said. "We don't put our hand and make a pledge on a bible. We are guided by the conviction in our heart, so we are going to have services."

Fairrington told CBS13 his church is doing temperature checks at the door, asking people to wear masks inside and doing social distancing for indoor services.

Conley said his church is telling people who are at-risk to COVID-19 to stay at home and not attend in-person services.

"I'll be flying in a plane next week. And we are taking greater precautions than any airline can take. So, if we're safe to fly, then we feel like we are safe to worship," Conley said.

Different public health officials – including in Sacramento and Placer County – have stated public gatherings are a driver for the increase in COVID-19 cases that we've been seeing.

Conley told CBS13 that there is a little bit of fear of enforcing the latest order from the governor and clearing out their pews. But, their belief of answering to a higher power outweighs what could happen.

"There was no enforcement with, again, the peaceful protests and the violent ones. There wasn't any real level of enforcement there," Conley said. "I would be shocked if peaceful law-abiding citizens who are worshiping their God would come under the scrutiny and irony of their state."

"We want to honor people in authority. I'm not here to be defiant," Fairrington said. "But I stand on my First Amendment and what the Bible says – "We are to worship.' "

The pastor of Pioneer Baptist told CBS13 the spacing of their service times helps them to better ensure social distancing.

Destiny is also offering an outdoor service for those who aren't comfortable with going inside for the Sunday service.

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