A pastor has been told she does not need to pay a £16,000 fine issued by police after holding a church service for the homeless in a car park during lockdown.
The case against Reverend Chez Dyer, 47, was dismissed by Nottingham Magistrates Court on Thursday. The court also ordered the government to pay his legal fees.
Dyer said she was relieved the case was dismissed.
“We stayed away from the most vulnerable when others were unwilling or unable. We had people who urgently needed our support and some who said we had stopped them from taking their own lives. “, she said.
“We were the spiritual doctors who weren’t on leave. People were hurting and needed us.
“We reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ during the most difficult times. That’s what the church is and what it should do. For that, however, I was treated like a We are a church with limited financial resources, so facing fines of this magnitude for helping the homeless was devastating.
“I hope my story can show people the vital role Christian Street ministry plays in our country.”
Dyer received the fine while running a ‘Church on the Streets’ service in Nottingham during the lockdown in February.
Welfare works with 30 homeless people and meets outside in a parking lot for worship, a talk and hot food every Sunday.
Dyer and the ministry believed they were following government guidelines as they engaged in the charitable distribution of food to the homeless and hungry.
But officers told Dyer they were holding an ‘unlawful assembly’ and fined £10,000. This amount was later increased to £16,000 by a court.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Center, which supported Dyer in his case, welcomed the court’s decision.
“We are delighted that common sense has finally prevailed and that the huge fine does not have to be paid,” she said.
“This Christian ministry was materially, emotionally and spiritually supporting the most vulnerable in their community during the lockdown. How come they were chased by the police in riot vans?
“It is an excess of the State to close the Churches and their ministries, when they are very often the last hope.
“We hope this story sends a clear message to government and police about the vital role Christian ministry plays in our communities and how it should be protected, supported and encouraged at all times.”