Two former members of Calvary Church have started a petition after they say church leaders have been guilting people into attending services in person.
The creation of the petition was prompted by comments the head pastor made during his latest sermon series.
“This is a message I’m calling today the essential church,” said Calvary Church head pastor Skip Heitzig. “He didn’t say I’m going to build by club or my base of followers or I’m going to build my online community or YouTube channel—he said I’m going to build my church.”
Heitzig said he’s glad there’s technology available to stream services, but also said assembly under God is important and benefits society.
“All of that is great yet the New Testament calls us to gather together,” Heitzig said. “I know that this is very, very, very controversial. If you don’t think it is, just look at my social media comments. ‘You’re killing people.’ No, we’re actually meeting according to state regulations, but the idea that the church would even gather together during this season. First of all, I want to say we care about your physical health. We will take every precaution, like distancing and wash their hands. At the same time, we think you are adults and can make your own choices about your life and your health.”
The former church members, two women, said the church is encouraging people to not follow the state’s rules.
“Their tag line was ‘You can’t serve from your sofa’ and it really struck a chord with us because it was as if Calvary was using their platform to kind of scare people in going against the public health order and support their opposition of it,” said Rachel, a former church member.
The two women tried to reach out to the church, but the church blocked, deleted and disabled their comments on social media. Rachel said she hopes the petition catches the attention of state leaders.
“It’s our hope to get this directed at someone higher up with more legislative pull,” she said.