BALTIMORE — A Baltimore church with several coronavirus-related violations opened for services again this weekend.
Greater Grace World Outreach was shut down earlier in the week for mask and social distancing violations last Sunday. Despite not being allowed to reopen, the pastor held a service Wednesday and again Sunday morning.
There were baptisms, talk of the upcoming Easter play and congregants sharing coffee at the church cafe between services.
"This is our message, this is our interest, this is our ministry," said Pastor Thomas Schaller. "When we assemble and when we receive the encouragement and the love and the understanding from our heavenly father then we can do things in the city of Baltimore."
According to one woman who asked not to be identified, about a hundred worshipers gathered inside the church for Sunday services, many of them did not wear masks.
Masks are required in all indoor spaces in Baltimore, with few exceptions, such as if individuals are eating or drinking.
According to the church member there are other concerns.
"Greater Grace's High School was closed last week due to a teacher testing positive for COVID-19," she said. "It's concerning. Students can go mask free. I have a feeling there have been multiple outbreaks that are underreported."
WMAR 2 News has repeatedly reached out to Greater Grace for comment. Each time our staff gets through and identifies themselves a message is taken. So far our calls have not been returned and there's been no public comment from the church.
WMAR 2 News also continues to press city officials on the closure enforcement.
"The Mayor's Office and Health Department met with Greater Grace Church last week. Since then, the Health Department has received the church's safety plan for Easter and anticipates a general reopening plan in the near future," said Stefanie Mavronis, spokesperson for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. "The City will continue to enforce the Mayor's executive order, which is rooted in the public health data and in line with the statewide mask requirement. We remain encouraged by the vast majority of faith institutions that continue to find ways to worship safely during this pandemic."
City officials have declined to answer questions on whether officials plan to investigate if further action against the church will be taken.