HANFORD, California (KGPE) — Several Central Valley church leaders and their congregants gathered in Hanford on Saturday to march for this message: worship is essential.
While event organizers say the aim of the event was not political, politics did enter parts of the conversation.
In a time when no one can worship in groups indoors, a group of pastors and religious leaders wanted to provide hope.
“Whether they’re business people, whether they’re people that came from a life of addiction, whether they’re middle class — whoever they are because everybody’s affected right now,” said Edward Alvarado, one of the event’s organizers.
Calling it a peaceful protest, a large crowd gathered at Lacey Park before marching to the front of the Hanford Civic Auditorium. While some were wearing masks, many were not.
Pastor Bobby Guerra of Hanford Pentecostal Church of God, another organizer, said the goal of the event was to give people an outlet to exercise their freedoms of speech and religion.
“I am tired of being distracted by the politics. It’s not political, it’s biblical,” he said while addressing the crowd.
He said given the current restrictions, worshiping together outdoors will suffice for now. However, when we spoke with him one-on-one, he did question why places of worship aren’t deemed essential.
“If you have casinos opened up … and you can get a dish soap in aisle five, why can’t you come and get your healing in one of the aisles in church,” Guerra said.
Aside from gathering to worship, attendees could also sign a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. The petition was started the second week of June.
Aside from Guerra, several pastors and religious leaders from around the Central Valley took turns to address the crowd. While none of them explicitly called for Gov. Newsom’s removal, some hoped their words would get back to him.
“I’m going to pray that would come and bring him some type of enlightenment, that we are essential,” Alvarado said.