Louisiana church still holding service, neighbors worry virus will spread throughout city

Church in Central continues to hold services with hundreds; neighbors concerned / Source. WAFB
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CENTRAL, La. (WAFB) - It’s a story WAFB first broke a little more than a week ago. The pastor at Life Tabernacle Church in Central continues to defy Governor John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order, along with his executive order limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.

Tuesday night (March 24), songs of praise and worship broke out again at Life Tabernacle.

Video and pictures from Central City News show the pews filled with hundreds of people.

“It feels like it’s diminishing our efforts to social distance when you’re following right behind people who don’t have those same concerns,” said one woman who lives right next to the church. She didn’t want her name on television.

Neighbors who live nearby the church are fed up with the constant crowds, saying there were services outside the church all day Sunday.

"Let’s put it this way. I woke up with their music Sunday morning and I went to bed with their music Sunday night, vibrating the walls in my house the whole time,” said Larry Gregoire, a Central resident who lives nearby Life Tabernacle.

Neighbors are afraid the people that come to these services will then go back into the community and possibly spread the virus.

“I’m 73-years-old. Every time any one of those 1,300 or 300 [people], depending on which day of the week they hold services, leave there and go anywhere else in the City of Central, they’re exposing elderly guys like myself,” said Gregoire.

Many ask why the authorities aren’t getting involved. Both the mayor and police chief responded to WAFB’s question on that.

“The governor’s office as well as various state, parish, and local enforcement agents are aware of the activities at Life Tabernacle. Due to an ongoing investigation of activities, we cannot comment any further on the matter,” said David Barrow, mayor of Central.

Chief Roger Corcoran with the Central Police Department said, “This issue remains under investigation and we are working with all parties involved to resolve this matter before it escalates further. We urge all organizations and groups to cancel large gatherings and listen to state officials. This is not a political issue, it’s a matter of public health and well-being.”

Neighbors are hopeful the situation gets resolved sooner rather than later.

“Other churches, including my own, are finding other ways to worship," said Gregoire.

"The church, it’s not the building, it’s the people. There’s nothing wrong with their church. We all have to find a different way to worship right now,” said the woman who lives nearby.

WAFB reached out to Reverend Tony Spell for a comment, but as of this report had not heard back from him.

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