Clementon Church Holds Indoor Service, No Tickets Issued
CLEMENTON — Supporters of a Camden County church that held a service on Wednesday despite Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders prohibiting in-person gatherings were not cited by police.
A few dozen people gathered outside the Bible Baptist Church holding signs that read "We the people" and "time to sue Murphy" before the start of the 7 p.m. service.
The church has teamed with the Solid Rock Church in Berlin to hold services. Both churches plan on holding service again on Sunday.
“Government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar non-religious activity," Solid Rock pastor Charles Clark III said earlier at a news conference.
In a post on the Stand with Bible Baptist Church Facebook page, pastor Andy Reese wrote that supporters "conducted themselves very well" and that "police were very nice."
"The chief made an appearance and even posed for a few photos. No citations have been issued yet, but time will tell," Reese wrote.
Police Chief Charles Grover, flanked by three officers, addressed the crowd and delivered a message similar to what Bellmawr police on Monday told supporters of the Atilis Gym. The owners and some patrons of the gym, however, were later issued misdemeanor summonses.
"These officers and myself are here for your safety. With that being said I will formally advise you, you are in violation of Gov. Murphy's Executive Order 107. With that being said, also have a good night folks," Grover said to cheers.
Grover did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information on Thursday.
Murphy issued an executive order permitting drive-in church services to be held, which the Trenton Diocese has endorsed. The Newark Archdiocese and Trenton Diocese, which represent millions of Roman Catholics in Central and North Jersey, are permitting private prayers inside churches but Murphy said "we're just not there yet" on indoor gatherings.
"The data is quite clear, as it represents itself to us. Inside, no ventilation, close contact, is a hard nut to crack," Murphy said at Wednesday's daily briefing.