Some 260 pastors and church leaders have written Gov. Charlie Baker, urging that he reopen churches on May 18th.

The letter questions why marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, and abortion clinics have been deemed essential in Massachusetts, while the state's 8,000 churches have not.

Pastor Bill Stack of the Haven Baptist Church in New Bedford was among those signing the letter. He told WBSM's Brian Thomas, his congregation welcomes an opportunity to come together.

"Our congregations are hurting right now. They need the ability to come together," said Stack. "It's no different than a restaurant opening, no different than a golf course opening, no different than other social opportunities to find fellowship and help."

Church leaders also expressed their displeasure with the lack of a church representative on the Governor's Reopening Advisory Board.

The letter also states that churches are ready to follow C-D-C guidelines in order to hold religious services again. Pastor Stack that includes social distancing.

"As much as I don't want to get sick, I don't want to make someone else sick. We have used sanitizers and other cleanliness steps for a long time to make sure we don't get other people sick."

The letter also urges the Governor to not underestimate the abilities of the church. The letter states many churches have members who are doctors and nurses. "We will listen to their expert advice as well, and they will help us be models of safety."

Baker said on Friday he and his advisory board are coming up with a long-term plan for the reopening of churches.

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