Watch CBS News

Neighbors Protest Metro Praise International Church For Holding Services During Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Stay-at-home orders are not stopping some Chicago churches from holding services, and that's not sitting well with neighbors who are following the rules. That's why neighbors held a protest outside Metro Praise International Church in Chicago's Belmont Cragin neighborhood Sunday morning.

RELATED: Despite Orders Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Northwest Side Church Does Not Require Masks, Allows Hugs

Three 45-minute services were held Sunday morning, the second weekend in a row the church has had full Sunday services in defiance of the governor's order.

The protesters say they have had enough, and believe the church is breaking the law and putting everyone at risk, especially in a neighborhood where there is a higher than average positivity rate for COVID-19.

"Nobody's denying them the right to meet. We're just wanting them to meet safely," protester Alonzo Zaragoza said.

Protesters walked and drove outside the church Sunday morning as services were held. They said the church is being reckless, and unfair to them, but pastor Joseph Wyrostek said Gov. JB Pritzker's stay-at-home rules are unfair.

"If they don't want to do what Indiana is doing, let's do what Illinois allows Wal-Mart to do, and there's going to be more there today than there are going to be here," he said.

Church leaders told followers on Facebook they have seating for 60 to 80 people with social distancing. Everyone is required to wear a face mask. They have been told not to congregate, and there will be no physical interaction. The church also reminded people to stay home if they are over 65, have preexisting conditions, or have or may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The church is making it very clear that you are coming at your own risk.

Another church is also planning services, but people attending the Philadelphia Romanian Church in Ravenswood may have a hard time finding parking. No parking signs went up on nine blocks surrounding the church.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) says the mayor ordered those signs put up in response to the church violating the stay-at-home order.

In a statement the pastor of the church said in part, "It is completely ridiculous. The mayor is inciting hate against the church, which is very sad."

He goes on to say "their effort to intimidate us will make us stronger."

Meanwhile, CBS 2 has reached out several times this week to the pastor of Metro Praise International a comment but was told he won't be doing any more interviews.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.