Local pastor cites first amendment, faith as reasons for keeping church doors open
PLANTERSVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered churches as governors and mayors have discouraged gatherings of more than ten people.
But there are some pastors who are still preaching to members inside the church buildings every week.
Shelter in place orders and CDC guidelines and recommendations on social distancing has had no impact on the congregation at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
Pastor Jack Shelton said it’s not about defying government authorities, instead, he said it’s about faith and the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.
Pastor Jack Shelton was holding Wednesday night services from New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on Facebook Live, and he was also preaching to members sitting in the church pews.
“I don’t know exactly how many were here, but I do know it was more than ten,” Pastor Shelton said.
Shelton has been pastor of the Plantersville based church for 14 years.
When the coronavirus began to reach the United States, and government leaders started restricting public meetings and events, Pastor Shelton decided not to close the church’s doors.
“The First Amendment states what our rights are as religious organizations, and then look at the governor’s oath and what he is obligated to as relates to the First Amendment. When we look at those things we can ask the question, who’s abiding by law,” Pastor Shelton said.
Bishop Clarence Parks, pastor of Temple of Compassion and Deliverance decided to forgo in-person services several weeks ago, opting for online broadcasts, and drive-in services.
Bishop Parks believed it was wise to heed the warnings and recommendations about the coronavirus.
“I tell the people, when we talk about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they didn’t jump into the fire, they were thrown in, and because they were thrown in, God took care of them. We were thrown into this fire, I believe, like they said, God is able to take care of us,” Pastor Parks said.
Pastor Shelton said true faith should erase fears.
“Why are we afraid if we have God’s power,” Shelton said.
Pastor Shelton has been in contact with ministers in other states who have been cited for having in-person church services. He believed there will be a lot of legal challenges over executive orders that have impacted church services and attendance.
Pastor Shelton said no one in his congregation has contracted the coronavirus.