As most of you probably have heard, during a news conference today President Trump announced that he was asking state governors to declare churches as “essential.” In order to interpret what that means for us in Washington and Idaho, we have consulted with Richard Hammar , AG General Council attorney, and our attorney, Caleb Stewart , for advice. Here is what each said today:

Richard Hammar: "Continually research federal, state, and local mandates and recommendations and follow the most restrictive one. Resuming church services is very dangerous unless done in compliance with applicable directives. I recommend that any church that is considering reopening review this article from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It describes a case in Arkansas in which 2 symptomatic attendees at a church event infected 35 of the 92 persons in attendance (3 of whom died) The case in Arkansas graphically reveals the potentially horrific consequences of church gatherings that disregard the directives of state and local health authorities."

Caleb Stewart:  "From a basic constitutional standpoint, state and local government(s) have power(s) that permit them to enact laws to protect or promote public health, including well-documented constitutional precedent allowing state and local governments to temporarily restrict fundamental rights, such as the right to assemble. Those restrictive rights do have obvious limits and those limits likewise have been set out clearly based on constitutional precedent.

Violating constitutionally girded state orders, then, poses significant legal, financial and other risk to any church who defies such orders. There is no precedent for the President to simply “override” a state’s orders without some other vetted authority, such as a judicial order noting the unconstitutionality of a state’s action(s)."

We also know that Washington Governor Jay Inslee had scheduled a news conference yesterday to discuss churches and places of worship. It was unexpectedly cancelled. We expect some response from him over the next week. We have been in contact with many faith groups and our own attorney who has been working behind the scenes to gain clarity and fairness for all churches during this global pandemic. We are also praying for all of our pastors, ministers, and churches. For now, our advice is to follow the local and state guidelines, and as our attorney Richard Hammar stated, the most restrictive interpretations of those in terms of health and safety.

Everyone on the NWMN team are working hard to keep you informed and praying for favor and blessing upon all of your ways of connecting people with Jesus during these days. Keep watching our NWMN and NWMN Healthy Pastor Facebook Group pages for updates, and also our NWMN website Covid-19 page where there are literally dozens of resources available that you can access.

Sincerely,

Don Detrick
Associate Network Leader – Secretary/Treasurer