Organizers of a Christian concert planned for Friday in downtown Siloam Springs say they plan to follow all state safety recommendations for large gatherings, even though state directives don't apply to worship events.
The 12-hour Let Us Worship event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Twin Springs Park and will include performances by local Christian musicians and several churches, culminating with a Sean Feucht concert in the evening, according to organizer Todd Varnadoe.
The event received a letter from the Arkansas Department of Health on Thursday, stating health directives to not apply to places of worship and a safety plan is not required for the event. However the letter did include a list of safety recommendations for participants, including wearing masks and staying 12 feet apart while singing.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson also mentioned the event in his daily press conference on Thursday in response to a question. The state gives guidance to churches but does not give edicts, he said.
"We appreciate a church running a plan by the department of health and want to make sure that they have a plan that is safe for everyone that wants to attend," Hutchinson said.
Varnadoe said the event will be following all of the safety and social distancing recommendations and directives, including making masks available, requiring masks inside the park, and monitoring entrance and exit points.
The event received approval from the city to host up to 1,000 people in Twin Springs Park, according to Don Clark, Siloam Springs community development director. The city has been issuing special event permits following the governor's directives allowing 66 percent capacity at large events with safety measures in place, although directives do not apply to worship events, Clark said. He estimated that 66 percent capacity of Twin Springs Park would be 1,300 people.
Feucht, who will be the final performer, is a missionary, artist, speaker, author, activist and the founder of worldwide movements, his biography states. He made an appearance on Fox News on Thursday to speak out for the right to hold worship gatherings in California and has been involved in a series of Let Us Worship protests in California.
Because Arkansas is under different circumstances, the event in Siloam Springs is not a protest, but rather a peaceful assembly to worship, Varnadoe said. He hopes the event, which is not sponsored by any one church, will "unite the body of Christ," change the atmosphere and provide a blessing over the town, he said.