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Lodi Church Fights Statewide Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order To Remain Open

LODI (CBS13) — A Lodi church now has a public nuisance notice posted on its front doors for failing to comply with the state's public health stay-at-home order.

Pastor Jon Duncan of Cross Culture Christian Center has continued to hold his church services inside the South Ham Lane house of worship with parishioners gathering together for his sermon.

"I want to let people know that we as a church, we love people, we understand that the virus is a serious issue," Pastor Duncan said. "We do believe this right to meet is upheld by the first amendment."

The pastor told Lodi police of his plans to stay open. Officers entered a church service last Sunday explaining the state orders to close.

READ ALSO: About One-Third Of Sacramento County Coronavirus Cases Linked To Church Gatherings, Health Officials Say

"It was a chilling on free speech at that point because it was clear that we were going to have to do something different and or face the consequences," Pastor Duncan said.

Patricia Wilcox lives next door to the church. She wants their services to end.

"I mean we're all seniors here, this is a senior apartment complex," Wilcox said. "We've closed down all of our meetings here."

Sacramento-based civil rights attorney Jeffrey Kravitz says the church's first amendment argument is one that has not been tested in a public health crisis like this one.

"It is absolutely not an easy question," Kravitz said. "How long does the emergency exist? At what point can we say there is no longer an emergency? No one knows the answer to these questions."

ALSO: California Public Health Officials: Cloth Face Masks Could Help Prevent Spread Of Coronavirus

This Coronavirus crisis. Now pitting a pastor against a public health order.

"I do understand the stance that we're taking, and not everybody's going to understand it, but I do believe it is the right one," Pastor Duncan said.

The pastor says no one in his congregation has tested positive for the virus.

He's hired an attorney to formally request the state of California to give churches exemptions from the stay-at-home order. The church also sent a cease and desist letter to the city.

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