'Treated Like a Criminal': UK Pastor Was Punished for Feeding, Worshipping With Homeless During Lockdown
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A pastor is celebrating a legal victory after she was harshly punished for holding an outdoor church gathering for the homeless in the United Kingdom.
Pastor Chizumie Dyer was fined $21,000 by police in February 2021 for sharing the gospel in some of Nottingham's toughest neighborhoods during the COVID lockdown. Attorneys with the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) reported that earlier this month, the Nottingham Magistrates Court ruled in favor of the pastor and ordered the government to pay her legal fees.
"I feel relieved. I feel thrilled," Dyer told the BBC News. "This getting chucked out of court is a big sense of relief. We stood in the gap for the most vulnerable when others would not or could not. We had people who urgently needed our support and some who said we had prevented them from committing suicide."
Nearly 30 homeless people took part in her outdoor service in February where they sang, worshipped, and enjoyed a hot meal together, according to CLC.
Even though Pastor Dyer followed the proper guidelines while they gathered, the commanding officer reported the assembly to his superiors, and they labeled it an "illegal gathering."
"When they actually informed us and said 'okay, you can continue but you have to go to a church car park' and then we went to a church car park ... they pursued us again," Dyer explained. "We're reaching out to the homeless, drug addicts and to get treated like a criminal for doing that was absolutely devastating."
"I was disappointed with the police," Pastor Dyer added. "I was very disappointed at the time and to know that we were very open and we will work with the police because our aim was never to go against no rules."
Ultimately, Dyer is hopeful that her case will demonstrate the important role that street ministry has among the disadvantaged.
"I hope my story can show people the vital role Christian street ministry plays in our country," she noted.
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