BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite governor’s orders to postpone or cancel in-person mass gatherings in the state of Kentucky, Maryville Baptist Church hosted Easter services inside their church Sunday morning.
Bullitt County health officials had continued to urge Maryville Baptist Church to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus.
Their efforts had been unsuccessful, and on Sunday morning, cars were lined up in the parking lot to celebrate Easter in-person at the church.
Maryville Baptist Reverend Jack Roberts said to WAVE 3 News last Sunday that the governor’s orders were illegal, questioning why churches weren’t considered essential.
With services continuing on as scheduled for Maryville, Kentucky State Police troopers were on hand to write down license plate numbers of the churchgoers inside, placing notices on vehicles to self-quarantine for 14 days.
On Friday, Governor Beshear announced that police would be recording the license plate numbers and reporting them to the health department. This would be used for contact tracing in the case that anyone became infected with COVID-19.
“These agenda, it’s one thing to keep us safe, it’s another when it’s starting to feel like a takeover,” Bevelyn Beatty, who came from New Jersey to visit Maryville Baptist Church, said. “I’m starting to feel like I’m in a communist country.”
Among the Sunday crowd were a lot of new faces, including Bevelyn Beatty. She said she and Edmee Chavannes had a trip planned to Tennessee, but while looking up Easter services, they found out about what Pastor Jack Roberts was doing.
“We really wanted together for Easter,” said Beatty. “I have never not went to church for Easter and I refuse to do it even with the situation going on my Lord is more important."
“The one right that I have is freedom of assembly and that’s what we did this morning,” Edmee Chavannes, from New Jersey said. “We got to go to the store because it’s essential and everybody understands it and no one’s questioning, ‘are you putting your neighbor in danger’ at Walmart. This is the same when it comes to this building or any building of faith.”
There has also been a lot of push back against Maryville Baptist Church inviting people to attend service in person.
Early Sunday morning, a WAVE 3 News crew found nails scattered in the driveway leading in and out of the church parking lot. Pastor Jack Roberts believes those nails were intentionally placed there.
“I feel sorry for the folks who have nothing better to do than to throw nails in the driveway,” Pastor Jack Roberts said. “If you want to confront me to come and talk to me.”
This Easter Sunday, people had the option to watch from their cars online and hear the service from the speakers outside.
Frank Harris said he doesn’t usually attend church, but he and his wife showed up to stand against the strict rules, the Governor has put in place.
“We just believe that it’s a giant overreaction by the state,” Harris said. “They don’t have the authority to tell businesses or people what they can do, and what they can’t do in the situation the most they should be doing is giving advice and allowing people to make up their own minds."
Some churchgoers told WAVE 3 News that they were there as a symbol of protest against the “governor’s infringement of constitutional rights," and they would not follow these quarantine guidelines set out by Governor Beshear and KSP.
Health officials say in the Louisville area, the next two weeks are critical to keeping the virus from spreading, and continue to ask that social distancing rules are still followed and to avoid gathering in large crowds.