A Massachusetts pastor held another church service on Sunday, violating city and state gathering orders for the fourth time.
More than 10 people attended the service on Mother's Day at Adams Square Baptist Church. Even more people gathered outside of the Worcester church holding signs and flags in support of Pastor Kris Casey.
Casey has been holding in-person church services Sundays and Wednesdays. The city told him to stop or he’ll be fined. Last Monday he got a $300 ticket, and the city has said a $500 ticket is coming.
Casey said he conducted a baptism at the church on Sunday, which is part of the reason why he continues to hold gatherings at the church instead of virtual services.
“I can’t baptize somebody on a Zoom meeting,” he said. "I shut my laptop down like that, everything goes blank. I really can't do it."
Pastor Casey says he’s spending thousands of dollars to have the church professionally cleaned multiple times each week to prevent the spread of virus and his congregants follow strict rules, including having their temperatures taken.
“The moment people get inside, they are personally escorted to each seat," he said. "They’re told if you take your mask off, if you take your gloves off, if you get up and move, you’ll be escorted out.”
In a letter Friday, Pastor Casey asked Governor Charlie Baker to allow them the right to assemble and worship.
The letter read in part, "I know that your position comes with many heavy burdens and I want you to know that I appreciate all you do for the Commonwealth...Regardless of your decision, I want you to understand that my position as pastor of Adams Square Baptist Church also comes with a heavy burden. My authority to pastor this church comes directly from God, and I must follow the Lord's leading regarding this church and how we move forward."
The letter continued, "Please understand that I have taken every necessary step to insure the utmost safety of all of my members as as the members of the community I serve."
Pastor Casey has remained defiant in Governor Baker’s coronavirus advisory that limits gatherings to 10 people or less.
"I absolutely see where they’re coming from. However, there’s the hypocrisy in the rule,” he said. “I was just in Lowe’s yesterday. People weren’t six feet the whole time, they crossed paths with each other. Not us; we’re keeping six foot distance.”
Hundreds of pastors around the Commonwealth are taking a less extreme stand against the governor’s decision. They wrote a letter to Baker demanding they be allowed to reopen May 18twith safety protocols in place.
“We are very concerned about the emotional and the mental stability of the people who have been locked down for a long time,” said Pastor Raphael Najem of CCF Ministries in Lowell.
He and other pastors also want representation on the governor's Reopening Advisory Board.
“We believe that he’s doing a great job, he really is. Somehow, he ignored us, there’s eight thousand churches- in creating this advisory board and not creating any pastors in it.”
Pastor Najem says his church will continue to follow guidelines from the state, but Pastor Casey held service Sunday as planned while he waits for his next fine.
“I’m not afraid of jail. I’m not afraid of prison. It’s a small price to pay to glorify God,” he said.
Worcester officials say subsequent violations could result in a criminal complaint.