CLEMENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey church opened its doors on Sunday in defiance of the state's mitigation guidelines that prevent masses and other large gatherings from taking place.
The Bible Baptist Church in Clementon held service for more than 15 parishioners. Signs posted on church doors laid out social distancing guidelines which the parish believes allows churchgoers to safely worship during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Right now there are a lot of people hurting emotionally, mentally, and we feel that we have a right, constitutionally, to meet to help our people," Pastor Andy Reese said.
The service was also live-streamed for parishioners still weary about tempting the virus that has reportedly claimed over 10,000 lives in New Jersey thus far.
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Gov. Phil Murphy relaxed significant restrictions last week as the Garden State tries to rebound from the economic blow the virus has inflicted. Non-essential businesses were given the leeway to provide curbside service, beaches began to reopen and elective surgeries can now resume.
As the second hardest-hit state in the nation finds its footing, an emphasis is still being placed on social distancing and preventative measures to thwart a spike in cases.
"We just so believe that church is essential for our society and again it's our constitutional right and our right biblically, our command biblically," Reese said.
Authorities did not show up at the church on Sunday to break up the gathering, but if they had Pastor Reese and the congregation would hear them out.
"We are not here to pick a fight, and we certainly want to honor and respect our authorities, and if they were to come I guess we would go from there are see what they had to say," Pastor Reese said.
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