Worcester's City Manager Edward Augustus has ordered the pastor of the Adams Square Baptist Church to cease holding "in-person" Sunday services after holding one Sunday in defiance of Governor Charlie Baker’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

On April 22, Kristopher Casey, pastor of the church located at 266 Lincoln Street in Worcester, posted his intentions on Facebook and in an open letter sent to Governor Baker, Mayor Joseph Petty and Police Chief Steven Sargent, that he planned on resuming church services, with social distancing precautions, because the ban violates his congregation's constitutional rights.

“I am writing to inform you that, after much research, consultation and prayer, I have made the decision to resume gathering as a church for corporate worship," it read. "This coming Sunday, April 26th, we will hold a morning worship service in our church sanctuary located at 266 Lincoln Street in Worcester. We will also gather at the same location on Wednesday evenings for our midweek service. My congregation and I will observe the appropriate social distancing precautions, consistent with guidance from the CDC.”

56 members of the church attended the service and a video of the gathering was posted on YouTube. During his greeting, Pastor Casey referred to his decision to resume worship.

"Our founding fathers knew in 1780 how precious and valuable this was going to be, and they allowed things to be put in our church constitution and our church constitution and bylaws, that were a direct result of the Declaration of Independence," he said. "And lord we thank you that we have the ability to worship you in spirit and in truth."

Augustus sent Casey a warning letter after the service that indicated he is disregarding a public health order that puts everyone at risk.

“We have delivered a letter to the Adams Square Baptist Church as a reminder that they are in violation of the Governor’s order of hosting a gathering larger than 10 people," he said. "While we certainly respect equality, religious freedom and the frustrations of not being able to host traditional public services, the Governor’s order is clear that it applies to the public safety of everyone. Self-exempting and disregarding this order puts the health of both parishioners and the wider public at risk.”

A spokesman for Augustus said that Casey has been issued a warning, informing him that further defiance could result in fines. Pastor Casey did not respond to repeated requests for comment.