Churches Defy State Bans And Gather With Congregations

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Is going to church essential last week president trump announced that yes in person religious services are indeed essential and houses of worship should be able to open their doors if they want to regardless of the pandemic restrictions in their states and sure enough over the weekend several pastors across the country defied their states bans and gathered with their congregations for some perspective we are joined now by pastor Chris Casey of Worcester Massachusetts he recently reached an agreement with city and state officials to hold small Sunday services pastor Casey thanks so much for being with us this morning my pleasure can you tell us about your church what did church services look like before the pandemic average between seventy five hundred twenty five people our church is a hundred thirty years old on old New England church beautiful church beautiful white steeple people saying loss when those inside are just nice services were going on before everything happened and then did you go online when the state home orders came down well we did several things are in our state it was only allowed ten people in church from a family of six and plus our sound guy would last seven I mean there's only three people more that would be a lot in church until now the frustrating thing because being an inner city ministry a lot of our folks didn't have online access didn't have computers so right then and there we were losing you know twenty thirty percent of our church I didn't have access to that stuff though the very difficult decision so did you did you go ahead with online services or did you not even try no we we had we had online services already set up and we went ahead and did online services but like I said what are you missing a huge part of our church and so from the that wasn't a good thing so a few weeks ago when Massachusetts restricted gatherings to under ten people you went ahead and held services and then you were fined three hundred dollars for defying regulations eventually you reach this temporary agreement with state local officials that allows you to hold in person services can you explain your argument to them was it just that you're on the five year population had access this was the argument was actually several things pulled out number one I try to sneak around and do it I sent a letter to the governor sent a letter to the city manager and the chief of police for the mayor and told me exactly what I was going to be going in the in the exact protocol that I was going to be doing and why we're going to be having services in the following we have services on Sunday the following Monday I got a letter from the city manager telling me that I needed to stop doing it and I told chief right then and there I want to continue to do services because this is the community college called me to reach and then I had service on Wednesday and Sunday the following Monday and up getting a three hundred dollar fine and then and I have service again on Wednesday and then the court in the city manager and mayor wants you they went to the courthouse and had to figure out what they were going to charge me with excellence Monday I received a a criminal complaint against the city upon receiving a criminal complaint I took that to my attorneys and that's when we filed a federal lawsuit against the state against the governor and against chief of police in the city manager for violence of our first amendment rights so let me ask you though I mean we heard Mike pence said as the vice president over these restrictions on houses of worship the book of Matthew says that god is present whenever two or more people are gathered together are you concerned about the level of risk that you might be exposing your congregants to your community too by opening up services we are absolutely concerned about that risk and if you understood the last articles that we had done we had service master come in and before each service and clean our service professionally cleaned the whole church and we did that before every service for a total of about six or eight weeks six resources rather which cost our church close to ten thousand dollars for them to do that we did that because we realized we could do it safer more sanitized and more social distance and all the big box retailers that are out there and I knew that because I've gone out to the retailers and saw what they were doing and thought they can be open to whatever capacity they are but our church is limited the tents that really bothered me as I said we can do about it and they did and so that's what we did we had people come in with you know they were they had their temperature taken without a touch with the monitors everybody wore masks everybody wore gloves everybody stood six feet apart everybody was ushered to their seats and so we did better than what they were doing I was thankful that the governor actually took our playbook what we were doing and made that the Massachusetts mandate and I was also thankful for the president that he actually came out at the church for the central because that's what we've been saying for four weeks just briefly if if an outbreak increases if something else happens in the virus spreads will you close in person services I don't think we're in a close person services because like I said we are doing it safer and cleaner and more sanitized socially distance than any place out there until after the season off to make if that time comes but as of right now we're still after resident Chris Casey of Adams were Baptist church in Worcester Massachusetts we appreciate it thank you have a

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