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Statesboro church to continue services despite shelter in place order

One church in Statesboro met this past sunday, defying Governor Kemp's shelter in place order....
One church in Statesboro met this past sunday, defying Governor Kemp's shelter in place order. They say they'll do it again this week.(source: WTOC)
Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 at 4:36 PM EDT
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STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) -Law enforcement interrupted a church service on Sunday in Statesboro after its congregation defied the Governor’s executive order and met anyway.

Church leaders say they’ll continue to meet. They feel the constitutional freedom of assembly and freedom of religion overrides any response to the pandemic.

​Church members gathered Sunday morning and evening just like always.

Both times, law enforcement came and asked them to leave.

State troopers say they came to enforce the Governor’s shelter in place order that restricts more than ten people gathering.

I spoke by phone with the president of the church's parent corporation.

“The Bible tells us we’re to lay hands on the sick, to touch the aggrieved,” says Dr. Clayton Cowart, the president of the church’s corporation. "The Bible also says we’re to serve communion and baptize and those can’t be done online.

Doctor Cowart contends their church service is as essential as stores allowed to stay open and more.

“Our faith is just as important as commerce. our faith is as important as the law,” Dr. Cowart said.

While most other churches have adapted to online or social media services during the pandemic.

“Our faith doesn’t change in a time of crisis,” said Dr. Cowart. "In fact, we see the need to pray even more, to fast even more.

As to what they’ll do this Sunday...

“Our church has made it clear in a proclamation that we would not dismiss any of our services.”

If they meet, law enforcement says they’ll be back again too. They issued five citations to church leaders after their second visit to the church. There could be more handed down this coming weekend.

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