Kentucky churches were able to hold Sunday services in person last week after a federal court halted the Kentucky governor's ban on mass gatherings including in-person religious services on May 10.
It was after weeks of holding virtual services only during the coronavirus outbreak and more churches will have services this week physically following CDC guidance of social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
U.S District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove made the ruling Friday against the Democratic governor Andy Beshear's orders and this was two weeks ahead of his reopen date of May 20.
The lawsuit was on behalf of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville, which filed the lawsuit to meet in person during services Sunday, after the state's Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, joined the case last week.
Churches, including Tabernacle Baptist, stopped holding in-person services after stay-at-home orders were issued on March 19 and 25. The judge found Beshear's orders "beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public," according to Fox News.
"If social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services which, unlike the foregoing, benefit from constitutional protection," the judge wrote in the court's order.
"The Constitution will endure," Van Tatenhove added. "It would be easy to put it on the shelf in times like this, to be pulled down and dusted off when more convenient. But that is not our tradition. Its enduring quality requires that it be respected even when it is hard."
King's Way Church in Ashland is spending this week preparing for their first Sunday back in church, WSAZ News Channel reported.
"We have spaced all of our seating, the rows to 6 feet apart. When people enter the church building on Sunday, we are asking to seat each family unit together, and then between each family unit will be three chairs, which are roughly about 6 feet," said Lauren Fannin, King's Way Church Media Coordinator.
"I encourage all houses of worship to prayerfully and carefully consider when it is the right time to resume in-person services consistent with health guidelines. Although these rulings protect the religious liberty of Kentuckians, we must continue to do our part to protect the health of our fellow citizens by reopening carefully," said Cameron.