LODI (CBS13) — A Lodi church now has a public nuisance notice posted on its front doors for failing to comply with the state’s public health stay-at-home order.
Pastor Jon Duncan of Cross Culture Christian Center has continued to hold his church services inside the South Ham Lane house of worship with parishioners gathering together for his sermon.READ MORE: MLB Tells Oakland A’s To Start Exploring Other Cities As Howard Terminal Effort Remains Stalled
“I want to let people know that we as a church, we love people, we understand that the virus is a serious issue,” Pastor Duncan said. “We do believe this right to meet is upheld by the first amendment.”
The pastor told Lodi police of his plans to stay open. Officers entered a church service last Sunday explaining the state orders to close.
“It was a chilling on free speech at that point because it was clear that we were going to have to do something different and or face the consequences,” Pastor Duncan said.
Patricia Wilcox lives next door to the church. She wants their services to end.
“I mean we’re all seniors here, this is a senior apartment complex,” Wilcox said. “We’ve closed down all of our meetings here.”READ MORE: VIDEO: Man Steals Sailboat, Gets Stuck On Tower Bridge
Sacramento-based civil rights attorney Jeffrey Kravitz says the church’s first amendment argument is one that has not been tested in a public health crisis like this one.
“It is absolutely not an easy question,” Kravitz said. “How long does the emergency exist? At what point can we say there is no longer an emergency? No one knows the answer to these questions.”
This Coronavirus crisis. Now pitting a pastor against a public health order.
“I do understand the stance that we’re taking, and not everybody’s going to understand it, but I do believe it is the right one,” Pastor Duncan said.
The pastor says no one in his congregation has tested positive for the virus.MORE NEWS: 48-Year-Old Man Dies After Stabbing In Folsom
He’s hired an attorney to formally request the state of California to give churches exemptions from the stay-at-home order. The church also sent a cease and desist letter to the city.