A church in Maine is battling the state’s order on its pandemic restriction on places of worship, in which Christians face the dilemma of staying away from the church or being accused of a crime.
Pastor Ken Graves of Calvary Chapel of Bangor in Orrington, Maine, is leading a legal battle against Gov. Janet Mills’ order on the indoor rally, limiting attendance by people inside places of worship. The pastor describes the directive as “unacceptable and frightening”, the Freedom Council, Going through News of the charism, reported.
the order dated Feb. 12, limits churches to accommodating only “5 people per 1,000 square feet of functionally available space, or 50 people, whichever is greater.” The state’s pandemic restrictions ordinance is considered the most stringent in the country, which has been in place for almost a year now.
“I am responsible for overseeing and managing all matters that the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to me in my role as the under-shepherd of His church at Calvary Chapel,” Graves reportedly said in court documents.
Graves, fighting for his church and Calvary Residential Discipleship (CRD), is represented by Liberty Counsel.
CRD is the church’s 12-month residential program that seeks to save those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. It currently receives 48 patients. Group Bible study is conducted daily and participants attend church twice a week, with seven or eight staff members. They join church members for worship each Sunday, which is a critical factor in their recovery program.
The state considers drug addiction centers to be “essential” and therefore has no numerical limit, but since the CRD conducts religious activities such as Bible studies and worship services, their assembly is considered illegal in accordance with to order. Secular meetings are free of restrictions, but gatherings that hold religious programs are restricted.
The order prohibits 56 CRD residents and church members from praying every Sunday. The situation puts them in a dilemma of dropping out of worship services or facing jail time. Graves argued that CRD residents and church members cannot be stopped from worshiping God every Sunday because it is essential to them.
The church has insisted that attending worship services is not an option and that the reason for its existence is to bring healing and redemption to people. Thus, the order contradicts his belief.
Calvary Chapel also argued that the governor’s take on the church, reducing it to an online podcast, was wrong. He also said the church doesn’t just download a pastor’s preaching to watch on devices.
“As a pastor who has first-hand experience of the harms of drug addiction and has worked most of my life to help those trapped in bondage by their addictions. I know that Bible studies and worship are essential. But orders of the Governor presented a choice of Hobson – the Calvary Residential Discipleship program could continue without numerical restrictions, but we could not come together for Bible studies and worship. I could not and cannot in good conscience remove the The Calvary Residential Discipleship program worship service, ”Graves said in the court record.