Police officers attended a Sunday service held at the Angel Church in Islington during the second national lockdown in November.
Several police vehicles arrived at the church premises on Chadwell Street in Angel, Islington.
The previous Thursday, Premier Christian News had reported that Pastor Regan King had ‘decided to disregard’ lockdown rules and hold a baptismal service.
However, the report quoted Regan King as saying, ‘I would prefer to say that we were pushing the guidelines to their absolute max.’
At the time, government restrictions permitted places of worship to be open only for individual prayer and community projects (such as food banks and support groups).
Pastor Regan King was informed that the service, including a baptism, could not proceed. Once the number of people arriving at the church exceeded 15, several policemen stood at the doors to the church building and prohibited further visitors from entering.
Keen to resolve the matter amicably, church staff reached an agreement with police whereby 15 attendees could remain inside the building while a further 15 could gather for a short time of congregational worship led by Regan King. Regan’s father, Barry King, preached to the fifteen people remaining in the church building.
The Angel Church runs a food bank, has provided over 12,000 hot meals to the vulnerable, and has sheltered four people made homeless due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Pastor King said, ‘There is no evidence that churches have been at the core of spreading this virus. Church is an essential service that we provide for people’s spiritual, mental, and emotional wellbeing.’
Pastor King also said, ‘As Christians, we cannot afford to think simplistically about our responsibilities, under God, to our community. We are to submit to the authorities God has given. Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 make this clear.
‘These passages, however, do not entail wholesale obedience to these authorities when their actions are not in line with God’s commands or the good of those around us.
‘If they were, we wouldn’t see Paul, Peter, and other disciples arrested again and again. Indeed, Jesus would not have been crucified were he to have ticked the Jewish authorities’ boxes.
‘We gather because we love God, we love our neighbour, and we know that the greatest need in our community is for the virus of sin to be dealt with through gospel proclamation and communal outworking.
‘The support locally has been overwhelming and we will continue to see God work in and through our endeavours.’