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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – Clergy with Faith in Action Alabama recently penned a letter of support to Governor Kay Ivey amid criticism that she should reopen the economy immediately.

“We want to applaud Gov. Ivey for reaffirming earlier this week her wise decision to keep in place a statewide “shelter-in-place” policy to fight the COVID-19 scourge,” read a portion of the letter.

Upwards of 10 churches from different religions from Huntsville down to Mobile signed the letter.

“We love church. We love God. But we are really concerned about the lives of our people,” said Reverend Jeremiah Chester of St. Mark Baptist Church.

The letter to Governor Ivey says the state needs to start testing more people and to make tests more obtainable for every citizen.

“Any conversations about lifting the stay at home order really needs to rely on science and what the medical community is saying,” Reverend Chester said.

Many churches have shifted to digital platforms over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reverend Chester says until more data is available, his church will likely remain closed even if the governor allows churches to open.

“Does our faith say that lives and people matter? Or do the ancillary things that we put before the actual lives of all people? I think this is playing out,” Reverend Chester said.

The main points in the letter to Governor Ivey are quoted below:

As faith leaders responsible for the well-being of tens of thousands of our congregants and communities we believe that the shelter-in-place policy can only be lifted when we as a state have heard from public health experts that Alabama has achieved a three-fold criteria. This criteria should include: (a) COVID-19 testing capacity for all who are exhibiting symptoms related to the coronavirus and who have been in contact with people who are infected, and sufficient contact tracing capacity to ensure all who have been in contact with a person infected by the virus can be identified and tested; (b) sufficient ICU beds are available for the expected rise in COVID-19 cases once the “shelter-in-place” policy is lifted; and (c) that the state has taken all necessary steps to prevent nursing homes and jails, prisons and detention centers from becoming virus hotspots, as they have in other states.

In order to assure that we have capacity in our hospitals and reduce the loss of life it is especially important to slow the spread of COVID-19 in behind bars by releasing as many people as possible and taking measures to protect those who remain incarcerated. Our elected officials must look to wisdom of public health expertise to ensure none of God’s children are needlessly endangered by COVID-19.”

The clergy issuing the statement include; 

Rev. Jeremiah Chester, Pastor, St. Mark Baptist Church, Huntsville; Rev. David Frazier, Sr. Pastor, Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, Mobile, Moderator, Mobile Baptist Sunlight District Association; Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton; Presiding Prelate, Fifth Episcopal District (serving the states of Alabama and Florida) of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME); Bishop Seth O. Lartey Presiding Prelate, Alabama-Florida District of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion); Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Presiding Prelate, Ninth Episcopal District of The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr. Pastor, Living Stones Temple, Fultondale; Rev. Manuel Williams, C.R., Pastor, Resurrection Catholic Church/Missions, Montgomery.