Pastor chooses freedom of religion over governor’s order, city responds

WORCESTER — Like many other places of worship during the pandemic, Adams Square Baptist Church posted Sunday’s service on it’s YouTube page.

But, unlike everywhere else, unapologetic parishioners also met in person.

Pastor Kris Casey decided to engage in the fight of freedom of religion against a governor’s order in what we believe to be the first regular church service since Gov. Baker’s ban.

“If the world hated you, understand it hated me before it hated you,” Casey read.

The service didn’t do much to address the controversy but he preached on the importance of following Jesus despite persecution.

“If you’re willing to follow Christ, what are you willing to give up?” Casey said.

Police arrived after the service was over, but showed up Monday to deliver a letter from the city manager reminding them of Gov. Baker’s ban on social gatherings of 10 or more people.

“By his own report had 56 individuals at that church,” said city manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “I just urge them to do the right thing if they feel like it’s in violation of the rights they can go to court but in the mean time they should follow the order.”

However, according to the letter Casey posted on the church Facebook page, he doesn’t plan on following the order due to freedom of religion.

He didn’t return our request for an interview, but in the letter - which was also sent to the governor and mayor last week - he questioned how government officials can justify allowing liquor stores to remain open but not churches.

“Thank you for the protections we have in America that do not exist in other countries around the world,” Casey said in his opening prayer. “I pray that we would not be about politics or the police but Lord we will look internally and find truth from the Holy Spirit in this book.”

The city says Casey plans to hold another service on Wednesday where he could face fines. However, the mayor hopes he reconsiders before then, citing the 1,806 coronavirus cases already in Worcester.

“I’m deeply disappointed,” said Worcester Mayor Joe Petty. “Across Massachusetts men and women of faith have chosen to follow advice, this is the time we make a sacrifice for the good of our neighbors.”

The pastor and his parishioners now have two days to decide.

“Some people are upset we are meeting today and I would rather upset your feelings than upset my God,” said Casey.

The church says it provided hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves and practiced social distancing.

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