The church in Las Vegas remains to be planning the Easter service
A Las Vegas minister plans to hold a live Easter service on Sunday evening.
Rev. Joseph Guy, senior pastor of the Open Arms Community Church, 2800 W. Sahara Ave., plans to hold a service on Sunday, April 12 at 6:00 pm, which will be attended by an estimated 35 to 50 Church members.
That might make his church the only one holding a traditional live Easter service in southern Nevada, where the coronavirus pandemic has led other churches to live-stream services or use alternative methods of worship.
Guy said Monday that he still plans to run the service and that since those plans were announced he has received about half a dozen phone calls and Twitter messages from others who oppose it.
“I got a call from a man (who was excited),” the man said. “The rest of them were pretty negative.”
Guy said members of his church had been meeting for about a year, mostly in small groups, and plans to open the church with an Easter service were made before the coronavirus pandemic broke out.
In a series of Twitter posts last week, Guy wrote that attendees’ temperatures must be measured and that the sanitary facilities provided must be used. Participation in the main room is limited to 35 to 50 participants, the rows of seats are positioned at a distance of two meters and the employees wear protective gloves. There will be no contact and no communion will be taken.
“Attending our Easter service will be no different from shopping at Walmart, Smith’s, or Albertsons,” Guy wrote on Twitter, and anyone with symptoms is asked not to attend and instead watch the service’s livestream on YouTube.
Guy said the importance Easter has to Christians makes it important to have worship services. “Closing your doors at Easter is inconceivable for me,” he said on Monday.
“I mean, I worry about people. If anyone got into a problem, it would probably be me with my weakened immune system, ”added Guy, who says that medications he is taking for rheumatoid arthritis have weakened his immune system.
Guy said he didn’t think attending church services would make anyone sick. “I have faith and I believe it will not happen,” he said, although the church is taking all possible precautions.
Pastors have been arrested in Louisiana and Florida for continuing to worship despite orders to ban large gatherings. In Arkansas, 34 people who attended a children’s program at a rural church 75 miles north of Little Rock in early March, including the pastor and his wife, are infected with the virus. Other people who attended the event before all activities there were canceled are waiting for test results. The pastor, posted on Facebook, urged people to take the coronavirus warnings seriously, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Worship services and churches are not specifically mentioned in instructions from Steve Sisolak, governor of Nevada. They prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people and list essential and non-essential businesses.
The ban on large gatherings is intended to be enforced by the police, and penalties for violations could include warnings or even civil or criminal penalties. Official Larry Hadfield, spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said Monday that the department is awaiting guidance from the Nevada Attorney General.
However, Guy said Monday that he would legally challenge any order to stop his church service.
“I’m turning 28 and I’ve never heard of … pastors being arrested for church services,” he said.
Contact John Przybys at [email protected] or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.