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Nearly 100 Houston-area church members gather on Palm Sunday despite orders

Church: 'The government's powers stop at the church's door.'

HOUSTON — At least one area church decided to hold a large gathering this Palm Sunday despite recommendations by local health and government officials.

Nearly 100 members of Glorious Way Church in north Harris County gathered for worship Sunday morning.

“There’s no comparison,” said Pastor John Griner. “In the Bible, it says in Hebrews 10:25, ‘Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much the more…'”

The large in-person gathering is in defiance of orders from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

“The same measures that are applied to an area with lesser troubles should not be applied to an area with lesser troubles,” said an associate pastor.

RELATED: LIST: Houston-area churches streaming Palm Sunday services online

RELATED: Judge Hidalgo amends Stay Home order to allow small religious gatherings that follow CDC guidelines

Church leaders said as long as Walmart remains open to the public, so will be the doors of its church.

“The government’s powers stop at the church’s doors,” said the church’s attorney.

He said multiple lawsuits have been filed in several districts challenging local stay-at-home orders.

Church members claim they’re allowed to conduct services like this because it does not violate the social distancing instructions of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“We just didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t meet the needs of our people and still maintain all of the directives,” Pastor Griner said.

Some members wore masks, but most did not.

Church leaders said families would not engage in physical contact with others and would observe six feet of separation as prescribed by health officials.

Two services are planned at the church in one week on Easter Sunday.

Coronavirus symptoms

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Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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