Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland had service again today, while a dozen officers and two members of the fire department looked on.
As we wrote about here, last week the church had their services broken up by police for allegedly violating Maryland’s stay-at-home orders. Despite being compliant and having fewer than 10 people in the church at any given time, nine officers responded and told the pastor that he was not to have services again this week.
Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. did not comply. The Church was open again today and held two services, one at 7:45am and another at 10:45am, despite being surrounded by an even greater number of police officers, members of the fire department, and reporters.
They did not break up the service.
According to a resident who filmed the entire second service on camera from across the street, there were nine police officers standing near the front of the building, and three other officers parked down the street who were directing traffic, for a total of twelve, or more than were in the building at any given time.
In an exclusive interview given to Pulpit & Pen, Joe Nice, the man who filmed the event, (and who was not a fan of the church services happening) told us in response to our questions.
The pastor conducted a walkthrough service. Parishioners entered the front doors of the church, picked up palms, greeted the pastor with an elbow bump, heard a brief part of the sermon, then left the church through the back door. By having a walkthrough service, none of the parishioners congregated.
Nine police officers stood nearby and three other officers were parked across the street in two squad cars. Two members of Baltimore’s Fire Department were in attendance in a separate red car. None of these public servants wore masks or gloves. The nine police officers and two fire department employees did not adhere to social distancing protocols.
I observed one employee from the church who wore a mask and gloves. The main ushers at the front of the church were suits, but no masks nor gloves.
The only person, other than me, that observed social distancing was the reporter from Channel 13 news.”
We’ve reached out to Rev. Gwynn for comment and will update accordingly.