A preacher in Pennsylvania says he's planning to host an “outdoor Easter blowout service” that will be “like Woodstock,” despite government guidelines urging people to avoid mass gatherings.
Jonathan Shuttlesworth, who oversees a ministry called Revival Today in the city of Prosperity, which is located around 40 miles from Pittsburgh, posted a video on YouTube Monday titled “The Rodney Howard-Browne Tribute Special.”
The video was named in honor of the Florida pastor who was arrested Monday for hosting worship services in spite of a state order advising people in South Florida to stay home to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Shuttlesworth denounced the idea of churches canceling in-person worship in response to concerns of spreading the coronavirus.
“If somebody would have asked you, as a Christian, would you allow the government to tell you to not go to church on Sunday for any reason? If somebody would have asked you in January, what would your answer have been?” Shuttlesworth asked.
“And then why is it a different answer now? … Everybody would have bucked up, ‘Oh no, not me. I’m willing to die for my freedom.’”
Shuttlesworth found it hypocritical that some politicians and government officials believe churches should be closed, but not grocery stores, marijuana dispensaries, and abortion clinics.
Shuttlesworth then announced his plans for an Easter event, stating he wanted to “bring people out to realize that God still has a remnant that will fight for freedom, fight for the Gospel.”
“I'm going to announce it, but we're going to hold an outdoor Easter blowout service, not online, a national gathering, you can come from all over like Woodstock,” said Shuttlesworth.
“We're going to gather and lift up Jesus Christ. I'm not ashamed that Dr. Rodney got arrested. I'm ashamed that when they wanted to arrest preachers for having church in an entire state, there was only one to come for. I’m ashamed my butt wasn’t seated next to him.”
Shuttlesworth said he still respects pastors who decided to close their churches over the health concerns, but added, "I am in the lighting a fire under a behind, business."
In response to calls to fight the spread of COVID-19, most churches in the United States have canceled their in-person worship, with many switching to online services.
Last month, Word of Life Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, issued an official apology for holding a large worship service during efforts to curb mass gatherings for public health reasons.
Word of Life pastor Tom Walters posted a statement on Facebook apologizing for the decision to hold the service and explained that they will switch to exclusively online worship.
Walters explained in the statement that the worship gathering began with him and the church staff coming together to pray, with others joining them because “they felt led to.”
“Please believe me when I say that it was not out of arrogance or defiance, but solely for the purpose of praying for our churches, communities, and nation,” explained Walters.
“We certainly want to be a blessing to our community and have certainly tried to be in years gone by. My heart was so heavy to experience the amount of hateful comments we received, but I guess I can understand.”