Is a Harlow church breaching Covid-19 regulations?
Covid-19 / Wed 28th Apr 2021 at 07:04am
QUESTIONS have been raised whether Essex Police has properly investigated an alleged breach of Covid regulations by a church in Harlow.
On Sunday morning (April 25th) a YH reporter visited the Christ Embassy Church based at Unit 6-7 The Fairway, Bush Fair.
The previous day, we had seen an advert on social media and it raised a number of public health concerns.
We arrived in the car park at just after 10am. As we waited men, women and children, none of whom were wearing masks, entered the small units.
They were greeted by a man at the door, who was also not wearing a mask. There didn’t appear to be any track and trace or sanitiser in use or on offer.
We also managed to get a glimpse of proceedings inside and there didn’t appear to be any social distancing.
Over the next hour, preaching and loud live music could be heard. You could not see in as all the curtains were closed. However, we did record the music.
Because of this YH contacted Essex Police on the 101 system and registered our concerns regarding public health and possible law breaking.
An hour later, a police car drove down the road, did a couple of laps of Bush Fair area and then appeared to drive away again.
Some might have expected the police to try and contact the informant but this did not occur. They didn’t even get out of the car. If they had, they may have heard the music blaring out.
YH approached “the man on the door” who identified himself as Peter. We asked whether his services were in compliance with Covid regulations. We thought he might reassure us or inform us that his church service was Covid complaint but he simply responded: “If you are that concerned then why don’t you call the police?”
We told him we had.
On Monday, we asked Essex Police for a statement.
An Essex Police spokesperson said:
“We were called with reports of a breach of coronavirus regulations in Bush Fair, Harlow, shortly after 10.40am on Sunday 25 April.
“It was reported that a religious event was ongoing which was not adhering to the coronavirus regulations.
“A marked police car attended the area shortly after 11.30am but officers reported they could not locate the alleged breach”
Three days later (Wednesday), we have still not been contacted by the police in order to take a statement or to collate what evidence we had.
On Monday afternoon, we visited the area and spoke to a number of businesses. One told us that the services had been going on all year.
YH has passed the information on to Harlow Council and a number of other organisations.
YH understands that Christ Embassy Harlow may be conducting services out of a small business unit in Harlow but they are infact part of a global organisation run by Reverend Dr. Chris Oyakhilome DSc. DD.
Christ Embassy, also known as LoveWorld Incorporated or Believers’ Loveworld, is a megachurch and a Christian denomination founded by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome in 1987. The Church, with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, has since become a global network of churches with congregations in many countries, and approximately 13,000,000 followers all over the world. The Church has ministries in Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom. The church has 145 branches of on five continents.
They have a TV channel called Loveworld (Sky 585).
Last month, according to The Independent newspaper, Ofcom reported the Christian broadcaster.
The article stated:
“Loveworld Television Network was found to have made the violation back in January after a 29-hour show titled The Global Day of Prayer featured sermons with “potentially harmful” claims about Covid-19 – including that the virus was “planned” and created by the “deep state”, and vaccines were a “sinister” means of administering “nanochips” to control people”
More details about Christ Embassy can be found below.
In the last year, YH has visited a number of churches, not to check up on them, but as part of our community and faith sectors.
We visited, St Stephens Church on Tawneys Road and their Covid procedures are very strict. This can be seen in their Twitter feed each week.
On a personal basis, this reporter has been to a memorial service at Holy Cross Church on Tracyes Road and again the procedure was very thorough.
Even week, Essex Police in Harlow put a message on their Facebook page detailing how many Covid breaches have been reported to them but they have refused to give details. We have submitted a Freedom of Investigation request.