Pastor says he is standing up to 'tyranny' by holding church services

A Massachusetts pastor said he will continue to hold services inside his church — even though he faces threats of a fine or imprisonment for doing so.


A Massachusetts pastor said he will continue to hold services inside his church — even though he faces threats of a fine or imprisonment for doing so.

Pastor Kris Casey said that more than 10 people gathered inside the Adams Square Baptist Church in Worcester on Sunday, marking the fourth time he has violated Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's statewide order that bans gatherings of 10 or more people.

Casey said he is growing frustrated that other businesses are able to stay open with a less stringent requirement on maximum occupancy, such as liquor stores, while he is expected to stay closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You know what, it’s hypocrisy at its finest. In fact, let’s call it what it really is, it’s tyranny,” he said. “So that’s why I’m standing up: to fight the cause and say it’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Casey said everyone at the service had their temperature taken beforehand and that they were required to wear masks, gloves and be at least 6 feet apart unless it was a family attending the service together. Anyone who violated those rules would be escorted out of the church.

He said he is also taking more stringent precautions than most to prevent the spread of coronavirus during his church services. That includes a professional deep cleaning before every service, as well as a strict bathroom use policy.

“Our bathrooms are usable, but the moment you go to the bathroom, for sanitary reasons, we’re going to escort you right out and we’re going to block the bathrooms so nobody can go in," Casey said. "We want there to be no opportunity for anybody to get anything.”

Casey has already been hit with a $300 fine, but he said has yet to receive a $500 fine as of Sunday afternoon, despite Worcester city officials said he received one for violating Baker's order for a third time on Wednesday.

The pastor said he has been open about holding church services when he first held one with more than 10 people on April 26.

He referenced the letter he sent to Baker, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent, stating that he would hold services in defiance of Baker's ban on gatherings.

“I’m not trying to hide anything. This church has been here 130 years. We have the right to do what we’re doing and no one is going to tread on it. No one is going to infringe on it," he said.

Casey said he conducted a baptism at the church on Sunday, which is part of the reason why he continues to hold gatherings at the church instead of virtual services.

“I can’t baptize somebody on a Zoom meeting,” he said.

As of Sunday, there were 2,924 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Worcester residents. All combined medical facilities of Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care have reported 170 coronavirus-related deaths.