Baltimore Sun | Jonathan M. Pitts | May 15, 2020
A prominent Baltimore pastor said he will hold worship services at 50 percent capacity in his 500-seat church this weekend despite an announcement by Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young that a stay-at-home order related to the coronavirus remains in effect.
The Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore, said he intends to lead two services in the church on Loch Raven Boulevard with the pews potentially half full, a decision that would allow up to 250 worshipers inside for each.
The state-level changes gave permission for religious organizations in Maryland to hold outdoor services as well as indoor services at 50 percent capacity, though Hogan made it clear that each county was at liberty to implement and adjust those suggested guidelines as needed.
Notified Thursday evening that Young had announced an extension of existing restrictions in Baltimore that ban gatherings of more than 10, Gwynn said he will defy them.
“We’ll follow distancing guidelines, and do this safely, but we’re going to be open at 50 percent capacity like the governor said,” he said. “I don’t know what the mayor’s trying to do. He wants to have a knock-down about First Amendment rights? He’s the mayor, not the pastor of churches in the city.”