Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is about to hold the largest open gathering this weekend since the state has reopened after precautions were in place due to the COVID 19 virus. Howard-Browne is ready for his church known as the River to host “The Stand,” an “open air mass healing and miracle crusade,” outdoors on the church campus at 3738 River International Drive in eastern Hillsborough County.
Many may recall that just two months ago Howard-Browne was arrested for
holding services at his Tampa church for violating orders meant to limit the spread of coronavirus. At present it should noted that the law of no groups larger than 10 is no longer in place in Hillsborough County, but police will be in attendance throughout the weekend.
According Howard-Browne nearly 3,000 will attend with a large number coming to Tampa from all around the state and the country. According to the church’s website services are set for Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., then each evening after that at 5:30 p.m. until June 7 and after that date plans remain unclear.
While churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship around the state are reopening most are being careful to follow CDC guidelines that include social distancing, wearing masks, staying away from any personal contact like hugging, handshakes or other person to person contact. The following of those CDC guidelines are something that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has endorsed and recommended himself to people returning to their local houses of worship.
However, that is not in the cards for those attending the events being held by Pastor Howard-Brown. “We’re not obviously doing social distancing, we’re not wearing masks or anything like that because we believe in the blood and the healing power of God,” Howard-Browne said. “But people are going to sign a waiver to say they’re not going to hold the church responsible because you could have picked up something at the gas station or Walmart or whatever.”
REPORTS FROM THE AP and the Tampa Bay Times were used in this story.