Moment police break up illegal church service in Cardiff under Wales lockdown

29 October 2020, 13:43 | Updated: 29 October 2020, 13:48

Police break up an illegal church service in Wales

Daniel Bevan

By Daniel Bevan

A pastor in Wales who held an illegal church service has called for the ban on religious gatherings to be lifted.

Wales is currently under a firebreak lockdown until November 9th, which bans religious gatherings of any faith.

Reverend Wade McLennan led the service at the New Hope Community Church in Llanrumney, Cardiff, which was disbanded by police.

He told LBC: “[The police officers] began to say that we had to leave and we challenged to some degree that [the idea that] churches were not essential.

“They were very kind and allowed us to close in prayer but I just don’t agree that stopping someone from worship is a government responsibility.”

But Rev. McLennan hasn’t ruled out allowing people into his church next Sunday.

He said: “If someone shows up at your do in need, would you tell them ’I’m sorry, I can’t help you?’

“When it comes to it, I’ll be here doing a live broadcast like I need to do, so I know that I’ll be here.”

A member of the church began livestreaming after the police entered the church and it was shared shared online.

It shows officers asking the congregation to leave after explaining the gathering broke Welsh coronavirus regulations.

Church-goers were allowed five minutes of prayer before leaving.

June Russell is part of the congregation at the church and gave an emotional account of what happened.

She said: “I do the gardening, I go for walks but I’ve got to go back to that flat after.

“It’s the same thing over again. I walk in and there’s nothing, there’s just silence and it make me wonder why I go on?”

Wales’ Counsel General, Jeremy Miles, confirmed at Wednesday’s Welsh Government briefing that religious services will be able to happen after the firebreak lockdown comes to an end.

Mr Miles also urged people to follow the law. He said: “We have provisions in place to enable people to provide compassionate care to others in that situation.

“But the basic rule, restricting our congregation for the next two weeks must remain in place and, I’m afraid, must be observed”.

In a statement South Wales Police said: “Officers attended New Hope Community Church in Ball Road, Llanrumney, on Sunday, October 25, following a report of a COVID-19 breach.

“Officers followed the policing style which we have adopted throughout the pandemic of explaining the rules and encouraging people to comply.

“Officers moved outside the church to allow five minutes of prayer after which all those present left. No fixed penalty notices were issued.

“We know civil restrictions are frustrating and disheartening for people, but by following them, we can all play a part in protecting our communities and the NHS.”