The pastor of a church in the U.S. state of Oregon has decided to keep the building open despite an outbreak of coronavirus in the church.
Peoples Church has been holding in-person services with no social distancing and no mask-wearing. It is believed the outbreak started last month during the Easter services.
At least 74 people have been infected so far including the lead pastor of the church, Scott Erickson and his wife.
On Sunday, Pastor Erickson came back to the pulpit after being hospitalised for coronavirus. During his Sunday sermon he said: “In the last several days, it is apparent that voices in our community and region want the church of Jesus Christ to be quiet and to be closed.
“Not us, not here, not now. That’s not what we’re doing," Pastor Erickson told those attending the church in person and online.
The church is one of 10 that filed a lawsuit in May 2020 arguing that coronavirus regulations in the state were violating the churches right of freedom of religion.
"We'll press on and honour what Jesus said in his word. He said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ I believe his word is true," Pastor Erickson continued.
"The church of Jesus Christ is the only hope for our community and for our region and our state," Pastor Erickson said. “And so we continue to magnify Jesus here as a church, and we’re not in defiance. We are here just to tell people the good news that Jesus loves our city and he loves the people of Oregon."
Pastor Erickson added, “So we remain cautious here at Peoples Church and continue to provide a safe and anointed environment where people can experience God’s presence and draw on his power.”
Oregon Health Authorities have launched an investigation into the church´s outbreak.