faith-based initiatives

Lee administration issues guidance for church activities

A sign outside the Pink Cadillac drive-in movie theater in Centerville advertises church services on May 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has issued a set of guidelines for church services amind the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what the Lee administration is recommending:

Guidance for Gathering Together in Houses of Worship

Tennessee is stronger because of our citizens and communities of faith. Governor Lee is thankful to the houses of worship and faith communities that have played a large part in Tennessee’s success to slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and other means of worshiping together without physically gathering.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I of the Tennessee Constitution protect the right of Tennesseans to worship and freely exercise their religion in every aspect of their lives according to the dictates of their own consciences. Additionally, the Tennessee Religious Freedom Restoration Act (T.C.A. § 4-1-407) provides additional protections for religious liberty. Thus, state and local governments must ensure these core constitutional and statutory rights are protected.

This resource is an aggregation of suggested protocols from various faith communities across Tennessee. Not all suggestions will be appropriate for each faith community. These suggestions are included as a courtesy for your convenience. These suggestions are not, and should not be construed as, mandates or requirements by the State of Tennessee, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, or any other entity of federal, state, or local government.

Moving forward, people should continue to exercise caution while COVID-19 remains present in Tennessee. To minister to vulnerable populations while also protecting those populations and continuing our state’s progress to contain COVID-19, faith communities are strongly encouraged to continue offering online services and other creative methods of worship and ministry. Faith communities should conduct
as many activities as possible remotely and should follow the recommendations in this guidance when deciding to begin gathering in person once again.

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