Those who gathered in north London prayed for police, the press and those ‘who wanted to shut down the meeting’ (Picture: PA)
An evangelical pastor had to be stopped by police from holding a church service in defiance of the coronavirus lockdown today.
About 30 people had gathered at north London’s Angel Church, with lead pastor Regan King justifying the event as being ‘for the greater good’.
Metropolitan Police officers stepped in to halt the Clerkenwell gathering, which had been publicly advertised before getting underway. A police car and two vans parked outside the church’s Mount Zion Hall building, while around four officers stood at the entrance to stop people from entering.
Those who attended later prayed for officers, the press and the ‘people who wanted to shut down the meeting’. Mr King, 28, said he wanted to hold the baptism in defiance of the restrictions because he ‘served a greater good’.
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He said: ‘We were told not to have a baptism and police began to block people from entering the church, so we decided to make other arrangements.
‘There were 20 people here initially and it built up to about 30.’
England’s Covid-19 lockdown has banned communal worship in churches and other religious buildings, though private prayer is still allowed.
Asked why he had decided to breach the restrictions, Mr King explained: ‘Because I believe we serve a greater good. We have a greater good than whatever this is.’
Pastor Regan King was allowed to hold a socially-distanced service outside (Picture: PA)
A police car and two vans were at the north London church to stop the service (Picture: EPA)
Police officers explained that religious services are banned under coronavirus restrictions (Picture: PA)
On the police presence, he added: ‘This is not something I ever wanted.
‘This is an essential service that we provide.
‘It’s about loving our neighbour, and you can talk with a number of people here who are extremely vulnerable, homeless or on the verge of being very isolated.’
Police allowed 15 people to remain inside the church, while another 15 took part in a socially distanced outdoor service nearby.
Religious leaders have been campaigning for worship to be exempt from lockdown restrictions since the first lockdown began in March.
Mr King poses with a bible outside the Angel Church in Clerkenwell (Picture: PA)
Around 30 worshippers attended the gathering (Picture: PA)
One man who took part in Sunday’s outdoor service but did not want to be named, said: ‘While the restrictions allow people to go to the supermarket to get food, I think there needs to be consideration for spiritual food as well.’
The man, 22 and from Lambeth, said that during the outdoor service, worshippers prayed for the ‘police, press and the people who wanted to shut down the meeting’.
A Met Police spokesman confirmed that officers spoke with the pastor following reports he intended to hold a ‘baptism and an in-person service’.
He said: ‘Officers explained that due to Covid-19, restrictions are in place preventing gatherings and that financial penalties can be applied if they are breached.
‘After a discussion, the pastor agreed to hold a brief socially distanced outdoor gathering in the church courtyard.’
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