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Islington baptism service halted by police due to lockdown rules

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Publishedduration4 hours agoimage copyrightEPAimage captionPolice officers stood at the entrance to the church’s Mount Zion Hall building, stopping people from enteringPolice halted a baptism service after about 30 worshippers gathered in breach of national lockdown restrictions.Regan King, lead pastor at The Angel Church, Islington, defended his decision to hold the service, saying it served “the…

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image copyrightEPA

image captionPolice officers stood at the entrance to the church’s Mount Zion Hall building, stopping people from entering

Police halted a baptism service after about 30 worshippers gathered in breach of national lockdown restrictions.

Regan King, lead pastor at The Angel Church, Islington, defended his decision to hold the service, saying it served “the greater good”.

The pastor agreed to hold a brief “socially distanced outdoor gathering in the church courtyard” after officers halted the service.

Four officers stood at the entrance stopping people from entering.

Under current restrictions weddings and baptisms are not allowed in England. Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.

image copyrightPA Media

image captionLead pastor Regan King said he held the baptism because he “served a greater good”

Mr King, 28, said he wanted to hold the baptism as it was providing “an essential service”.

He said: “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.”

Asked why he had decided to breach the restrictions, Mr King said: “Because I believe we serve a greater good.

“This is an essential service that we provide.

“It’s about loving our neighbour, and you can talk with a number of people here who are extremely vulnerable, homeless or on the verge of being very isolated.”

image copyrightPA Media

image captionThe church held a socially distanced outdoor service nearby

Two police vans and a police car parked outside the church’s hall.

A 22-year-old attendee 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.”

On Friday, more than 100 church leaders launched a judicial review of the decision to ban people from worshipping together.

A Met spokesman said officers spoke with the pastor following reports he intended to hold a “baptism and an in-person service”.

The spokesman said: “Officers explained that due to Covid-19, restrictions are in place preventing gatherings and that financial penalties can be applied if they are breached.”

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