South Bay Churches Prepare to Reopen for Limited Indoor Services

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It is a busy time for churches in the South Bay as many pastors prepare to reopen for limited indoor services following a recent Supreme Court ruling ordering counties to allow limited indoor worship.

Calvary Chapel San Jose wasted little time holding and celebrating its indoor services on Sunday just after the high court ruled counties could not stop indoor worship altogether but were allowed to limit singing and other activities that could increase the spread of the coronavirus.

At first, Santa Clara County said it would not back away from its restrictions, but this week said churches could go indoors with a 20% restriction on attendance.

Since Calvary Chapel has accumulated more than $1 million in fines from Santa Clara County, some expected continued defiance, but a Calvary pastor on Wednesday said the church will set up "additional seating in other areas" to comply with the county capacity limits.

"We’re going to continue to minister to people as they come, and we’re doing our best to meet the requirements of the county," Administrative Pastor Jason Zbyszinski said.

Bethel Church of San Jose has been conducting outdoor and drive-up services even during times when limited indoor services were allowed.

"It was really about our neighbors, showing them that we really do care about them. We care about their safety and we care about how they feel about things," Bethel Senior Pastor Frank Silverii said. "But also we wanted to honor our government."

County Counsel James Williams said the county will continue to monitor and enforce restrictions as it always has. He welcomed Calvary Chapel's change of heart but did express some skepticism.

Clarification: Calvary Chapel reports it has outdoor chairs and tables available but has no plans to add or change that setting.

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