A Baltimore County pastor resumed in-person worship companies amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, stating in a video he posted Thursday “we’re going to do it God’s way.”
Stacey Shiflett, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk, Maryland, posted a snippet of a sermon he preached Wednesday entitled “Religion without Restriction” to his Twitter account, after receiving a cease-and-desist order for holding in-person companies.
“I’m telling you right now, with this cease-and-desist letter in my hand, the Bible says to the New Testament church…the closer we get to Jesus coming back, the more church we ought to be having – not less church. Now that is God’s parameters. So I’m tearing up this cease-and-desist order right here and I’m telling you right now we are going to do it God’s way,” Shiflett mentioned through the sermon as he held up what he indicated was the cease-and-desist letter for the congregants to see earlier than tearing them up.
“We’re going to do it God’s way. God tells us how to worship him – nobody else gets to do that,” the pastor mentioned.
The sermon was recorded one week after Governor Larry Hogan signed an government order on May 13 permitting church buildings to function at 50 % capability, a choice that was then nullified by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. the subsequent day by an order that prohibited spiritual establishments from holding gatherings of greater than 10 individuals.
In a press release posted to the church’s web site, Shiflett wrote that he re-opened his church after “compliance for two months” as a result of they imagine “that the church is essential – and to say otherwise is an offence [sic] to Almighty God and to every churchgoer in the state.” The pastor said that he didn’t re-open for “notoriety or publicity.” The church web site comprises protocols for gatherings through the pandemic.
Shiflett additionally posted a tweet mentioning that some small companies had been allowed to reopen quickly: “Baltimore County Executive just re-opened small businesses, and other establishments. But massage parlors, nail salons, tanning beds, tattoo shops and churches are to remain closed. God have mercy! #ChurchIsEssential”
Olszewski introduced Thursday the state will permit retail shops, barber retailers and hair salons to reopen Friday, May 22 with a most capability of 10, together with employees.
“With significant progress in expanding testing and PPE, I’m confident that Baltimore County is ready to take these next steps, and do so in a safe manner that protects the health of our residents. While these steps are important, we’re not out of the woods yet, and I urge all residents to continue practicing social distancing to limit the spread of this virus,” Olszewski mentioned within the announcement.
The county government additionally said that spiritual gatherings of 10 or extra individuals would proceed to be prohibited, however spiritual establishments are welcome to carry “drive-through or drive-in services, as some have done.”
A spokesperson from Baltimore County mentioned in an e mail to Newsweek that “defiance of a Baltimore County cease-and-desist order can result in a fine up to $5,000 per violation.”
“Religious facilities may currently choose to livestream or record services or ceremonies indoors with authorized persons. Facilities may also hold drive-through or drive-in services, where participants gather in their vehicles at or near the religious facility and participate in the service together remotely. Drive-through and drive in-services in accordance with prior guidance from the state of Maryland, may exceed 10 people,” the spokesperson mentioned.
Maryland has 43,531 confirmed instances of the novel coronavirus and a pair of,045 deaths attributed to the virus, based on their state Department of Health coronavirus tracker. The state additionally has 1,374 sufferers hospitalized with COVID-19. Baltimore County alone has 5,135 confirmed instances and reported 210 deaths for the reason that begin of the pandemic.