Harrisonburg church planning interfaith service to defy executive orders

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 1:53 PM EDT
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A Harrisonburg church that operates in close partnership with Nexus Services, a company that allow immigration detainees to be released from detention through charges for monitoring and

, is planning to hold an interfaith service on Wednesday, designed specifically to violate Governor Ralph Northam's executive orders.

According to a statement released by Nexus Services, the First Christian Church Universalist is planning to hold a service at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, at their location in Harrisonburg, with Mike Donovan, the CEO of Nexus Services, presiding.

The company says the church held a religious service on May 10, despite Gov. Northam's executive orders against gatherings, and claims that the Harrisonburg Police Department "stood down" from citing them for the service (Local law enforcement agencies hold the authority to cite people for violations of Executive Order 53, which closed many businesses and facilities, including churches, and limited gatherings to 10 people).

Now, Nexus says they're hoping to hold a larger service at the church.

It's just two days before many of Virginia's restrictions begin being lifted with

, which includes allowing churches to hold in-person services at 50% capacity.

Nexus Services says they will still work to practice social distancing and wear face masks at the service to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect people vulnerable to the disease, providing face masks to anyone who attends the service.

“We can no longer pretend that we are going to beat this great enemy by dissolving the civil liberties of Americans," said Nexus CEO and church minister Mike Donovan. "Such a prescription gives us a cure more debilitating than the virus. America achieves because its people reach for the stars. In times of adversity, we used to get serious and fix serious problems. Our faith communities would spring into action, feeding the poor and tending to the needs of the community. Now our government tells us to trust them, to accept the wholesale shredding of the bill of rights. If we allow our government — of, by and for the people — to divorce the people from the process and send them to bed, the result will be fascism and tyranny the likes of which this nation hasn’t seen in hundreds of years.”

Nexus Services continues to face

, but they say their company takes a broken immigration system and "makes it possible for people to survive it, and to overcome it."

The First Christian Church Universalist is a church that was founded in Harrisonburg in 2014. They say they began "as a parish and social justice ministry" and "has focused its ministry on people reentering society from jail and prison. The church’s efforts have assisted in the successful release of thousands of people from incarceration, leading them to full societal participation. "