Pastor Kristopher Casey of the Adams Square Baptist Church in Worcester will be hit with a $300 civil fine for holding a Sunday service with over 10 people in attendance for a second week in a row amid the coronavirus crisis, a city official said Sunday.
Casey, who also held a Wednesday service last week despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s order to limit public gatherings to no more than 10 people amid the pandemic, has claimed a constitutional right to hold services.
“It is disappointing that despite all of the sound medical advice, and evidence of the effectiveness of limiting public gathering in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, that this pastor has chosen to ignore that,” said Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. in a statement Sunday. “In so doing, he is putting the health of his parishioners, and anyone they may come in direct contact with, at risk.”
Casey did not return a request for comment, and a representative at Adams Square Baptist Church said Casey was not speaking to anyone Sunday afternoon.
Worcester reported 2,297 cases as of Saturday evening, while local medical facilities have reported 114 total coronavirus-related deaths.
The church’s Facebook posted a notice of morning worship service at 11 a.m.
“Please stay home if you’re having any cough/cold symptoms (even if you think it’s just allergies),” the Facebook message read.
In a livestream of Sunday morning’s service, Casey, not wearing a mask, did not appear to directly reference the coronavirus or COVID-19 in an approximately one-hour-long service.
“So when you come here today, what really matters is not that you defy the order of the governor,” Casey said. “What matters is that you came here to serve your resurrected savior.”
Officials did not provide the number of attendees Sunday morning, but a sizeable audience could be heard clapping on the livestream. Last Sunday’s service reportedly drew a crowd of 56.
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