Most Kentucky churches abandon in-person worship on Easter

April 12, 2020 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Most Kentucky churches did not hold in-person Easter services, heeding warnings against such gatherings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many celebrated the holiday Sunday at home with sermons and masses delivered online, the Courier Journal reported.

But Kentucky State Police recorded license plate information on about 50 cars parked outside Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County so they could be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days, news outlets reported.

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Before the service, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jack Roberts, cleaned up nails that had been left at the entrances. He had covered his license plates.

At On Fire Christian Church in Louisville, a drive-in service was held after a federal judge barred the city from trying to prevent the drive-in service. On Friday, the church sued Mayor Greg Fischer, who said he was only “strongly suggesting” that churches not hold in-person or drive-in services.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said several of the 11 churches that had had been holding in-person services in the eastern Kentucky area changed to drive-up services.

“You are putting your members in harm’s way unlike the hundreds of churches in our county that are doing it the right way and having virtual or drive-up services,” Mosley wrote on Facebook a day earlier.

Kentucky State Police officers had “met with several of those pastors this morning. A few have decided to proceed with drive-up services instead since the post last night. They’re still making contact with some of the others,” he said Sunday.

Troopers responded to dozens of complaints about church services Sunday, state police Sgt. Josh Lawson said. Other than Maryville, none were in-person. The rest were outdoor services and people were staying in cars.

In Kentucky, 97 people have died from the virus, and 1,963 have tested positive, Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday.

Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

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