LAS VEGAS (FOX5)-- One Las Vegas pastor is praising President Donald Trump, who called on governors to reopen places of worship.
Pastor Rob Wright said he has already reopened his church, Abundant Grace Church. His first in-person service was on May 17th.
Pastor Wright is also one of around 200 pastors across Nevada who signed a petition, asking the governor to include churches in Nevada’s Phase One reopening plan.
“I’m just glad to be back in church, praise God,” Pastor Wright said. For him, it’s been a long two months.
“I’ve never seen the churches close down in the 50 years, I’ve been a pastor,” he said.
At first, Pastor Wright said he closed to respect Governor Steve Sisolak’s orders.
“So when this happened, it was amazing. And then we didn’t open right away. That was even more bothersome,” the pastor said.
Bothersome, because in Pastor Wright’s eyes, churches are essential.
“The hospitals are frontline, the doctors, the nurses, but I consider the churches frontline too because we handle not the physical part of the body, but then mental part and the spiritual part,” he said.
Pastor Wright said he was getting calls and messages, “they wanted to get it open. They kept pushing me. Let’s open it up pastor, let’s get it open.”
On Sunday, May 17th, he did just that.
“When people go without fellowship and when people go without church, there’s something lacking in their life,” Pastor Wright said. “People think of suicide. People get discouraged. People want to give up, so the churches are essential. It’s not a luxury, it’s an essential thing.”
Nearly 80 people came out, about half of his congregation.
“My heart jumped inside of me. And to see each other, and to pray for each other, it was so wonderful,” Pastor Wright said. “It was like coming home and seeing a friend you haven’t seen for two months. It was wonderful because it’s like seeing family. Our church is one big family.”
Right when people enter, Pastor Wright said things are different.
“We’ve closed down our nursery and junior church, the kids have to sit with their parents,” he said. “We also don’t do greeting time. Don’t hug one another, shake hands, we don’t do that.”
Blue tape marks where people can sit inside the sanctuary.
“It’s socially distant so they’re not on top of each other,” he said. “Plus we have sanitizing stations all around the church.”
Pastor Wright also held a bible study at the church, Thursday night.
“We don’t lay hands on the sick like we usually do. We just have them stand where they are and pray for them there,” he said. “We have a large sanctuary here that can seat 400 so we really have no problem seating all the people.”
On Friday, the president called places of worship ‘essential.’
“I hope the pastors aren’t afraid,” Pastor Wright said. “They don’t have to be fearful now. We got the President now.”
The message reaffirmed to Pastor Wright that he made the right call.
“It encourages people, builds their faith, this is a time we need to give people hope, need to give them faith and love,” he said. “If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t you don’t have to. But come out to your place to worship, a church, synagogue or mosque, whatever it is. Come out to worship. It will take away all those blues from staying in your house for two months.”
Pastor Wright said he does have elderly people in his congregation who are not ready to come back. He will continue streaming his services online.