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Orrington church sues Governor Mills over COVID-19 executive order

Calvary Church officials sue Governor Janet Mills with the hopes of being able to gather in person, despite COVID-19.

ORRINGTON, Maine — Editor’s note: You've probably heard the term ‘flattening the curve’ as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. 

As phase one of the plan to reopen businesses continues, places of worship are still considered non-essential under Governor Janet Mills' COVID-19 executive order.

According to the governor's office, stage one allows, "limited drive-in, stay-in-your-vehicle church services."

For Calvary Chapel in Orrington, that's not enough according to Pastor Ken Graves.

"All we want is our Constitutional rights to be preserved," he said.

Pastor Graves told NEWS CENTER Maine that Calvary Chapel serves a lot of recovering addicts. He added this community needs to be allowed to be together, now more than ever.

In the lawsuit against the Governor, Graves claims "Calvary Chapel's members were threatened with criminal sanctions and penalties if, at any time, any number of individuals gathered together for in-person worship services at Calvary Chapel, and regardless of whether social distancing, enhanced sanitization, and personal hygiene practices were followed."

Governor Mills defends her Phase One actions during Wednesday's C-D-C briefing.

"As an embodiment of the love you have for neighbor and self and as a faithful response, I'm quoting here the biblical mandate to protect the most vulnerable, the marginalized, the weak, and defenseless," she said.

The Maine Council of Churches is supporting the Governor's plan in a letter, writing in part, "...we call on Maine's churches and the clergy who serve them to practice restraint, patience, and a spirit of sacrifice as we discern a way forward through the coming months..."

There is no organization that represents all the Mosques in Maine but National Muslim organizations are urging all mosques to follow their local guidelines.

"I suggest that public health demands certain changes in the way we do a lot of things and most of the churches in Maine understand that," Mills said.

Pastor Graves said Governor Mills has until the end of the day Thursday to respond to this lawsuit.

Officials at the Christian Civic League say they are waiting to hear back from their legal team before responding to this lawsuit.

The Catholic Diocese of Portland released a statement today with times for parking lot masses across the state this weekend. The details on how to participate are below.

Sundays at 10 a.m.
Parking lot of Saint Dominic Academy's Auburn campus (121 Gracelawn Avenue)

Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m.
St. Anne Church (299 Main Street)
(Mass will be held from the second-story deck of rectory)

Saturdays at 4 p.m.
Parking lot of Holy Family Church (145 Pritham Avenue)
Tune into 101.7 FM to listen to the Mass once parked.

Sundays at 11 a.m.
Parking lot of St. Faustina Church (370 Main Street)
Tune into 101.7 FM to listen to the Mass once parked.

Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Parking lot of Geiger (70 Mount Hope Avenue)

Mondays through Fridays at 8 a.m.
Parking lot of the Holy Family rectory (607 Sabattus Street)

Sundays at 11 a.m.
Parking lot of St. Bernard Church (150 Broadway)

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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