Prominent evangelical church is the first to sue D.C. over covid-19 worship restrictions Assemblies of God said it filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city to stop implementation of a requirement that it provide a more welcoming environment for its congregants at Cavalier-Meridian Church in a city where the four-month-old “Covid-19” initiative had attracted criticism from some critics as discriminatory.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prominent evangelical church is the first to sue D.C. over covid-19 worship restrictions Assemblies of God said it filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city to stop implementation of a requirement that it provide a more welcoming environment for its congregants at Cavalier-Meridian Church in a city where the four-month-old “Covid-19” initiative had attracted criticism from some critics as discriminatory.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 20 in U.S. District Court in Washington, said the procedure for becoming an associate pastor at Cavalier-Meridian is a “public performing capacity” such as television, printing and even in-person visits to the pews. It said D.C. church members are “falling foul of a law” requiring it to host a more welcoming and accommodating environment for them.

The lawsuit said the requirement comes “at the most vulnerable of times” and follows a recent article in The Washington Post where a pastor from a D.C. megachurch wrote about how the number of women leaders has surged since his church began offering complimentary speech courses to teenagers and their parents. “It’s become a major strength of ours,” John Pregman wrote in the story published Wednesday.

“Church organizations all across the country have implemented reforms that enable more women, including … valedictorians and business people, to serve as their peers,” Pregman wrote. “The more churches hear these experiences, the more inspired they will be to offer even more beautiful events for family, faith and neighbors.”

In the lawsuit, aspokesman Troy Monreal said the services provided by Assemblies of God, which includes 24 churches and has about 6,700 members in D.C., will “continue to be your and I’m sure your Sunday.” He noted that in a statement issued Tuesday that officials disagreed with the requirements and “discussively indicated that Assemblies of God would cease serving as a member of District of Columbia’s public performing capacity at Cavalier-Meridian Church as early as Sept. 20, 2020.”

Monreal said Assemblies of God officials have “tremendous respect” for the city and its tenants. He said Assemblies of God has continued to offer services at Cavalier-Meridian with care, “in our own unique way.” He said the congregation is “fully cooperating with authorities” to address the need for “an uplifting and welcoming congregation environment” for its worshippers.

On the other hand, Monreal said the church is “very disappointed” by the city’s decision.

City spokesman Jesse Hall said City Hall had not seen the lawsuit but would review it.

D.C. Councilman David Catania, a progressive Democrat who chairs the council’s housing and homelessness committee, has championed “Covid-19” as a way to significantly improve the neighborhood surrounding Cavalier-Meridian, despite opposition from some who have called the proposals unavailing and potentially discriminatory.

A recent survey by USA Today estimated the program, which launched in May, has attracted more than 120 transgender people, 73 percent of whom are men, for worship services in the District. The advocacy group Equality D.C. has asked city officials to reconsider the requirement, which it says could lead to a loosening of church law for clergy.