Orrington church disobeys Governor's mandate, plans to open for Sunday service

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT
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The Calvary Chapel in Orrington announced Sunday they will be holding an in-person service this coming Sunday.

As part of Governor Mills' statewide mandate, churches are only allowed to provide drive up services.

But Pastor Ken Graves believes that is unjust.

"We recognize there is a very dangerous pandemic underway. We also believe that it is discriminatory for our state to determine that big box stores can be trusted with peoples' health, and the churches cannot be trusted," said Graves.

They have rules laid out for churchgoers to encourage social distancing and say they take the CDC's recommendations very seriously.

"We actually are following all the same CDC guidelines. We make masks available, we're aggressively disinfecting every surface, we're discouraging people from close contact," said Graves.

Pastor Graves acknowledged his civil disobedience, but believes opening his church is the right thing to do. But not everyone in the Christian Community would agree.

"We don't think this is the time to break the law. There may be a time, you know, if the church thinks a law is unjust like they have in the past with civil rights and things like that. But we don't believe that all of the tools we have available to us like dialoguing with the government or seeking legislative relief or even frankly going to the courts if it comes to that. We don't believe those have been exhausted," said Carroll Conley, the Executive Director of the Christian Civic League of Maine

Conley adds the government does have some authority to penalize the church but is more concerned about how they could be viewed in the community.

"A church has to consider the potential harm or influence it may be on its testimony on its community as well," said Conley.

The Christian Civic League of Maine offers legal advice for religious services during the pandemic. They provided this statement in addition to Conley's interview: ""The Christian Civic League has always appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on current events and other issues and let our community be aware our perspective. We recently were asked to conduct a television interview to respond to churches who have made the decision to meet in person in defiance of Maine’s emergency orders. It is our opinion that the interview focused on our disagreement with these churches in regard to the timing of legal action and non-compliance rather than emphasizing our support and agreement in principle that there is a time for churches and individual to consider such actions. We are not accusing the journalists involved of any intentional misrepresentation. It is very important to us that our community knows whatever disagreements we may have regarding balancing our Biblical obligations to authority and obeying God are minimal in comparison to our agreement and support for those who might not embrace our strategy and timeline."

For information, go to cclmaine.org.