A pastor sued for holding a worship service outdoor for the homeless in a parking lot during the COVID-19 lockdown hails court victory.
Fined $21,000 For Holding Outdoor Worship Service
During the February lockdown, 47-year-old Pastor Chez Dyer organized an outdoor service on the streets in Nottingham. She did it for the homeless people. With tents, sound system set up, and food served, around 30 people attended the service.
At that time, authorities allowed churches in England to hold limited in-person services. However, the Nottinghamshire Police argued that the pub car park is “evidently not a place of worship.” They insisted that “despite previous warnings.” they continued to organize the service. Hence, the magistrate court in England sued Pastor Chez, and the police fined her $21,000 in her absence.
Meanwhile, the pastor stated that a place of worship at that time includes “premises when being used for religious gatherings. Even when their primary purpose is not for religious gatherings, such as a community center.”
A Support To The Most Vulnerable
Further, CLC Chief Executive Andrea Williams added, “This Christian ministry was supporting the most vulnerable in their community materially, emotionally and spiritually during the lockdown. How was it that they were the ones chased down by police in riot vans? It is state overreach to shut down Churches and their ministries when they are very often the final hope.”
Thankfully, the Nottingham Magistrates Court has ruled that Pastor Chez would not have to pay the fine anymore. According to Christian Legal Centre, they ordered the government to pay her legal fees.
“I am so relieved that this case has been thrown out and justice has finally been served,” the pastor quoted. “We stood in the gap for the most vulnerable when others would not or could not. We had people who urgently needed our support and some who said we had prevented them from committing suicide. …were the spiritual doctors who were not on furlough. People were suffering and needed us.”
Further, Andrea hopes that what happened could send “a clear message to the government and police. Of the vital role Christian ministry plays in our communities. And how it must be protected, supported and encouraged at all times.”
“We reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ during the toughest of times. This is what the church is and what the church should do. For this, however, I was treated like a criminal. We are a church with limited financial resources, so to face fines of this magnitude for helping the homeless was devastating.
“I hope my story can show people the vital role Christian street ministry plays in our country.”
Reference: The Christian Post