coronavirus

Worcester Pastor Violates State Order by Hosting Service for More Than 50 Parishioners

Massachusetts is not allowing gatherings of more than 10 people in response to the coronavirus pandemic

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A Worcester pastor violated Massachusetts' order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people when he held a service in-person Sunday.

Adams Square Baptist Church and Pastor Kris Casey held worship service for more than 50 parishioners.

"I pray that pastors around this state and around America would be encouraged to stand up and do what we are allowed to do, what we're constitutionally protected to do," Casey said in a video of the services streamed live to parishioners not in attendance.

"When we became aware of this, we had the police go down, take a look, and I think they arrived after the services were conducted, so there was no one to speak to," Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus said.

The police chief hand-delivered a letter to Casey Monday, reminding him of the order and the reasons behind it amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pastor does not intend to comply with the order and is intending to have a religious service of some kind on Wednesday of this week," Augustus said.

There are escalating measures city officials can take, including fines, but Augustus said he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"Have a good day, thank you," said Casey when NBC10 Boston caught up with him outside his rectory Tuesday.

He said he had no comment and said to "have a blessed day."

Gov. Charlie Baker said while he's sympathetic to houses of worship, it doesn't outweigh the dangers posed by public gatherings at this time.

"There's lots of data from around the globe in places where people didn't put constraints around houses of worship, where the virus went all over the place," Baker said.

Services are still scheduled for Wednesday evening, but it's unclear how many parishioners will show up and what action the city may take.

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