16 Shelby County churches accused of violating ‘Safer at Home’ order

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — At least 16 churches across Shelby County are accused of violating ‘Safer at Home’ orders on Sunday morning.

The Shelby County Health Department checked on all the churches but said only some of them were not in compliance with the order.

“[Un]like some other pastors, I never said, ‘We’re gonna do it no matter what the government says,” Pastor Ricky Floyd of the Pursuit of God Church said.

Floyd says he’s been recording his sermons and streaming them online. It’s his part to comply with Mayor Jim Strickland’s ‘Safer at Home’ order.

Under local rules, churches are still allowed to hold physical services as long as they have no more than 10 people and those people are at least six feet apart from each other.

“We’re treating churches just as we’re treating all other nonessential businesses,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph with the health department said.

But some feel Sunday service is essential, and you can’t put a limit on how many people can hear it in person.

“Oftentimes it simply involved just some education and letting them know what we’re trying to achieve,” Randolph said.

Floyd said he’s received some flack for moving his sermons online.

“No way you could have ever told me that the biggest fight in the church would be whether you should have your church open or closed, and … I’ve lost relationships because people have voiced strong opinions,” Floyd said.

The health department said it’s in the process of putting together guidance for how churches should operate during the coronavirus pandemic which it plans to put on its website.

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