Local church that is suing governor defies stay-at-home order, nearly 100 people in attendance on Sunday

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LENA, Ill. (WTVO) — With the State of Illinois modifying its stay-at-home order to allow church gatherings of to 10 people–one church in Stephenson County is choosing to take a stand.

“God’s laws are above man’s laws and I’m going to follow God anytime and will be willing to go to jail for it,” explained Bill Dietz, a Parishnor at Beloved Chuch in Lena.

Deitz was just one of many people to attend Sunday’s indoor service at Beloved Church. The church recently filed a lawsuit against Governor J.B. Pritzker, calling the extending stay-at-home order unconstitutional. The church’s Pastor Stephen Cassell Claims their first amendment rights are being violated.

“You have the freedom to decide how you want to minister to your folks but so should I should also have the freedom to decide how to minister to our folks,” argued Pastor Cassell.

The pastor says the church is taking safety measures by making sure everyone had a face mask and access to hand sanitizer.

“We’re doing it safe nobody is going to get sick no one in the community is getting sick we’re doing it safer than the Casey’s and doing it safer than other places I go to on a regular basis,”

However, the number of people attending the service far exceeded the ten person limit.

“I don’t know maybe 100 or so. Maybe a little less than that somewhere around that eighty to one hundred I suppose,” Parishioner John Tuttle estimated.

Many residents disproved of the Sunday service.

“I have no idea what pastor or minister would put their congregation in harms way it makes no sense to me,” one Lena resident, Gwen Petittte, weighed in. “I’m saddend by it because he is supposed to be a leader and a role model and look out for his flock and he’s not doing that.”

Meanwhile, those who attended felt grateful.

“People were socially distancing and I was inspired by it and we are going to be safe and for the people that say that we’re not being safe and we’re taking chances, I just disagree with that. That’s all,” Parishoner Deitz added.

Pastor Cassell tells Eyewitness news that he will continue indoor church services next week and the weeks to follow.

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