Statesboro church receives citation for gathering of 30+ people

Georgia State Patrol troopers gave the pastor of the church and four others citations for reckless conduct after the service. 

Sarah Smith

STATESBORO — For members of Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway received citations last Sunday for reckless conduct after holding a church service with over 30 people. 

The April 5 service was live-streamed, and attendees were seen hugging and conversating within six feet of one another. Pastor Eli Portor has been vocal on the church’s Facebook about their mission to continue services through the shelter-in-place order. 

“If they have to write us a citation every Sunday and every Wednesday night, we’re willing to take it,” Portor said in a video on Facebook. “We’re willing to take all citations.”

According to a Georgia Department of Public Safety police report, a Bulloch County deputy noticed nearly 40 cars in the parking lot of the church. After taking a look, the deputy saw about 30 people in the building, including children. 

After Georgia State Patrol troopers arrived, attendees were asked to come outside but repeatedly said they would finish the service, according to the report. A video posted on their Facebook page shows the officers addressing a group of people once they were outside. 

According to the report, the pastor and three others were written citations for reckless conduct. 

Under Georgia’s shelter-in-place order, no gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. The order goes on to stress that church services and funerals are higher risk for spread of COVID-19, and health officials are discouraging those gatherings. 

Sarah Smith, The George-Anne Managing News Editor, [email protected]