A church’s baptism service that broke lockdown rules has been stopped by police.
About 30 people had gathered at The Angel Church in Clerkenwell, north London, on Sunday in defiance of the national coronavirus restrictions.
Officers stood at the entrance of the evangelical church to stop people from entering, while two police vans and a police car were parked outside.
After police spoke with the pastor, he agreed not to go ahead with the indoor service and baptism, but a socially distanced outdoor gathering was held instead.
Lead pastor Regan King, 28, said he believed he “served a greater good” by holding the service.
“We were told not to have a baptism and police began to block people from entering the church, so we decided to make other arrangements,” he said.
“There were 20 people here initially and it built up to about 30.”
Asked why he decided to breach the restrictions, the pastor said: “Because I believe we serve a greater good. We have a greater good than whatever this is.”
He said a “number of people” at the service were “extremely vulnerable, homeless or on the verge of being very isolated”, adding that “it’s about loving our neighbour”.
Police allowed 15 people to stay inside the church to attend a support group, while the rest held a socially distanced outdoor service nearby.
One attendee at the service, a 22-year-old man who did not want to be named, said: “While the restrictions allow people to go to the supermarket to get food, I think there needs to be consideration for spiritual food as well.”
He added that worshippers had prayed for the “police, press and the people who wanted to shut down the meeting”.
A Met Police spokesperson said officers had spoken with the pastor after they heard he intended to hold a “baptism and in-person service”.
“Officers explained that due to COVID-19, restrictions are in place preventing gatherings and that financial penalties can be applied if they are breached,” they said.
“The pastor agreed not to proceed with the baptism or the in-person indoor service.
“A brief socially-distanced outdoor gathering was held instead which was agreed to by officers as a sensible compromise in the circumstances.”