Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order Tuesday limiting church gathers and funerals to 10 or fewer people.
Executive Order 2018 “brings our religious institutions in line with a previously issued order that limited public gatherings to 10 or fewer people. The order, also extends to funerals,” Kelly said at a news conference. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
“Both religious and non-religious funerals in the state must adhere to the 10 or fewer persons limitation,” Kelly said. Churches and funerals were previously exempt from the 10-person limit.
“I want to be very clear that my action today does not ban funerals from taking place, or religious gatherings. I’m fully committed to protecting Kansas’s religious liberty, as Governor. Both conducting and attending religious services remains a designated essential function and cannot be prohibited by local orders. Gatherings must simply be limited to 10 individuals at a time,” Kelly said.
“Additionally, clergy church staff and churchgoers must adhere to appropriate safety protocols, as outlined in the statewide stay-at-home order, including social distancing measures, hygiene and other efforts in the context of church operations.”
The governor encouraged every to review this information at kdhe.gov/coronavirus.
“That said, I strongly encourage all faith leaders to embrace alternative forms of worship that do not involve in-person congregation,” Kelly said.
“This was a difficult decision. It could not have come at a more disappointing time. Kansans are a community of faithful people,” Kelly said. “We rely on our pastors and our priests, our rabbis, and all of our religious leaders for guidance and counsel, especially at times of sorrow uncertainty and hardship – and especially during Holy Week. This morning I spoke with several faith leaders across Kansas and explained what made these decisions necessary. I was encouraged and deeply grateful that many churches across Kansas already recognized the danger of congregating and had proactively taken steps to celebrate Passover, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday in an alternative way. I’m uplifted by your creativity, and your results.”
Kelly said it was also worth noting that practicing churchgoers are not the only Kansans whose cherished traditions have been put on pause. From family gatherings to the White House Easter Egg roll, events across the nation have been canceled.