During the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has temporarily banned in-person gatherings. Most churches in New York have voluntarily complied with this temporary public health measure. However, many churches desire to begin meeting together again for prayer, worship, and the preaching of God’s Word. For some churches, parking lot church services may be a viable option that allows believers to gather together while observing social distancing orders and guidelines.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms has been contacted by various churches that desire to hold parking lot church services, but have encountered unresponsiveness or resistance from government officials. When three churches in Chemung County encountered such difficulties, First Liberty Institute wrote to Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss on their behalf; shortly thereafter, County Executive Moss changed course and stated that he would allow parking lot church services. (The letter sent by First Liberty Institute to County Executive Moss is available here.)
Churches that intend to hold parking lot church services may wish to contact their respective county health departments, in writing, to inform them that they intend to do so. Churches may wish to adapt this sample letter for use in contacting their respective county health departments. For a list of county health departments, please click here.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is not a legal advocacy organization and does not provide legal advice. Any church seeking legal advice should contact an attorney.