Worcester Pastor Holds Third Church Service Against Governor’s Order

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/05/06/worcester-pastor-holds-third-church-service-against-governors-order/

A Worcester pastor held a third church service over the governor’s 10-person limit tonight, and he expects to be hit with another fine tomorrow.

A little more than 40 people attended the 7 p.m. service Wednesday, May 6 at Adams Square Baptist Church, Pastor Kris Casey told New Boston Post – including three other Massachusetts pastors who told him they are planning to hold comparable church services this coming Sunday.

Pastor Casey was served with a $300 civil penalty by the city of Worcester on Monday, May 4 for holding a church service for more than 40 people on Sunday, May 3.

Wednesday night’s service would likely be considered a third offense by the city, which according to a state directive could draw a $500 fine.

It could even lead to the pastor’s arrest. The directive says third and subsequent offenses “which are repeated and willful may be subject to criminal penalties including a fine of up to $500 or term of imprisonment or both.”

A spokesman for the Worcester city manager’s office declined comment Wednesday night.

The services go against an executive order issued by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on March 23 limiting most public gatherings to 10, including what the order calls “faith-based” events.

Baker has justified the order by arguing that it is helping limit the spread of coronavirus.

The governor has kept open what his administration considers essential services. They include grocery stores, drugstores, big-box stores, and liquor stores.

Casey, asked by New Boston Post on Wednesday night why he went against the governor’s order yet again, said the governor’s list of exempted activities is missing a big one.

“Church is necessary. It’s essential. People need to be fed the word of God,” Pastor Casey said in a telephone interview.

He said his congregants include people with addictions and marital problems who need help right away.

“They don’t want to counseled in Zoom meetings,” Pastor Casey said. “They want to be in church and hear the word of God.”

Casey has argued that the governor lacks the constitutional authority to limit what churches can do. He has also questioned how the governor can justify keeping liquor stores open but not churches.

Pastor Casey said he once again hired a professional cleaning company to clean the church before the Wednesday night service. He said it cost about $1,300.

He told New Boston Post late last week that he hired the same cleaning company to fog and wipe down the church before the service Sunday, May 3, which New Boston Post covered.

The pastor also enforced social distancing and had church-goers wear masks and gloves, and he banned all physical contact.

Nor is he backing down.

Asked about the $300 fine he got on Monday, Pastor Casey replied:  “I’m not paying it.”

He said he is planning to hire the cleaning company again in the next couple of days in anticipation of a fourth more-than-10 church service at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 10. The service is scheduled to include a full-immersion baptism of a woman in her mid-20s in a baptismal pool behind the pulpit.