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Pastor tears up cease-and-desist over in-person services: 'We're gonna do it God's way'

A pastor in Baltimore who has been threatened with a $5,000 fine for holding in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic tore up a cease-and-desist letter during his Wednesday night sermon. 

Video posted online shows Stacey Shiflett, the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk, tearing up the warning while declaring, "We're going to do it God's way." 

"With this cease-and-desist letter in my hand, the Bible says to the New Testament church 'not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much more as you see the day approaching,' and the closer we get to Jesus coming back, the more church we ought to be having, not less church," Shiflett said in his sermon. 

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"Now that's God's parameters," he continued. "So I'm tearing up this cease-and-desist order right here, and I'm telling you right now, we're gonna do it God's way! God tells us how to worship Him, nobody else gets to do that."

According to a report from Fox News, Shiflett's church has been operating in compliance with state orders but against local ones.

Orders from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) last Friday say that houses of worship can only operate at 50 percent capacity. Calvary Baptist's 100 attendants on Wednesday followed those guidelines because the church has a capacity of 600.

However, the church is in defiance of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services's order requiring houses of worship to remain closed and restricting gatherings to fewer than 10 people. 

"Either we have liberty to worship or we have permission to worship," Shiflett told Fox News on reopening despite orders. "It has become abundantly clear that if we settle for permission, we will never have liberty again."

Shiflett said other churches plan to reopen on Memorial Day weekend, and that he will attend a ReOpen Maryland rally on Friday.