RIFLE—Roughly two dozen pastors and ministers in Garfield County are politely and respectfully saying, “it’s time for church.” In a letter addressed to the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, pastors from Parachute to Glenwood Springs say virtual fellowship isn’t meeting the deep, emotional and spiritual needs of their flocks. The letter states that if restaurants are going to open soon, houses of worship should be given the same consideration. They say they all plan to welcome worshipers back to church May 31st.
Pastor Jim Sheets has been faithfully delivering sermons from his pulpit at Rocky Mountain Baptist Church in West Rifle to a faceless, online audience during the shutdown. He believes it’s time to bring people back together. Sheets says, “We can run services safely by keeping families together and spread out the others.” Sheets says he’s willing to have up to five services on a weekend to meet the needs of his congregation while maintaining health department guidelines for social distancing.
Albert Harris is the senior pastor at New Life Church in Rifle. Harris reminds that pastors don’t just work on Sundays. He says it’s a full time calling to minister to others in need that, sadly, he can’t fulfill. He says the restrictions prevent him from performing a big part of his job which is visiting nursing homes or counseling someone who may be battling depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
Other clergy members that signed the letter to the commissioners include Pastors Charles Westby of Rifle Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Dave Bleem of Faith Journey in Parachute, Eddie Piker of New Hope Church in New Castle and Travis Lowell of Summit Bound Church in Glenwood Springs.
May 31st is significant among Evangelicals. It’s Pentecost Sunday, which is considered the birth of the early church.