Pastor receives $300 fine for repeatedly holding large gatherings in Worcester church

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A pastor was slapped with a $300 fine after repeatedly holding large gatherings inside his Worcester church in defiance of an order by Gov. Charlie Baker. Despite this fine, he says in-person services will continue.

Pastor Kristopher Casey held a service Sunday for 45 people just a week after hosting more than 55 people at Adams Square Baptist Church, according to city officials.

This violates Baker’s order on no gatherings of more than 10 people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

7NEWS was outside the church when Casey was hit with the fine on Monday morning.

“I’m thankful for this fine, this civil disobedience,” he told 7NEWS. “I’ll take it to our legal team and we will let them deal with it.”

In a letter sent to Baker last month, Casey said, “such a shutdown of religious services violates clear constitutional rights under the 1st and 14th amendments.”

The pastor reiterated that sentiment after he received the fine, saying, “I’m doing my job as a pastor and that’s standing up for my constitutional rights, not only for me and my church, but for people all across the Commonwealth, and right now, they are being infringed upon.”

Casey says he will hold services again despite the fact that he could face a $500 fine if he violates Baker’s order again.

“We are going to have church on Wednesday and we will have church again on Sunday,” he said.

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty says that Casey is putting the public at risk.

“This is real and real people are dying because of COVID-19,” he said. “They are getting it from somewhere…I am begging people to do your best to practice social distancing.”

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus said that he is “disappointed, quite frankly, that he and the folks who attended those services would put themselves in jeopardy and put their community in jeopardy.”

Health officials say Worcester is still in the surge and its peak is expected Friday.

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