Bothell megachurch defying governor’s virus restriction

BOTHELL, Wash. — A Bothell megachurch pastor says “no way” to Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest restrictions. But others are embracing the alternative.

The governor is limiting church capacity to just 25% and banning group singing.

But Snohomish County pastors at one church are defying the governor’s new order as the Snohomish County case rate explodes.

Since the end of October, coronavirus cases have more than doubled, from 124 cases around Halloween to 280 cases per 100,000 residents as of Nov. 14.

A pastor of Canyon Hills Community Church says they will not comply with these orders. He delivered the message in a video message to his congregation.

The signs are all there. The congregation at the Canyon Hills Community Church in Bothell is abiding by a host of restrictions to keep the coronavirus at bay, including rigorous enforcement of wearing masks.

But in a video posted online, the senior pastor says services must be conducted as they believe the faith requires—in person and with singing.

“Corporate worship, prayer and preaching are essential to our faith,” said Dr. Steve Walker.

So they will not reduce further the number of people who may attend.

“We are going to continue with our church services on Sunday morning,” said Dr. Walker. “We’re going to continue at 50% capacity.”

That is double the capacity the governor now says is allowed inside a church. A check around the area reveals that Canyon Hills appears to be in the minority among other religious congregations.

“(It’s) a wonderful time to do ministry,” said Dr. Troy Lynn Carr, “where we can integrate technology and faith.”

Carr is a pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in South Seattle. She says they have been holding virtual-only services since March when the first restrictions were put in place.

“But we are enjoying our time together,” she said. “Even though we’re not physically able to touch each other, we still feel the energy and the love and the presence of God with us in our worship.”

The pastor said their services will still be available online.

No one responded to a request to talk on camera to one of the pastors.

According to the governor’s office, anyone may complain anonymously on his coronavirus website. As for penalties, those are decided on a case-by-case basis.