NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro health officials are investigating a large religious gathering held outside the Metro Courthouse this weekend.
The event took place on Sunday and was led by religious author and recording artist Sean Feucht.
A video posted by his organization shows people worshiping in close proximity without masks. According to his Twitter account, Feucht is the founder of multiple movements and said he was escorted off stage by police.
A police officer escorting me out tonight said he estimated 9000-10,000 worshippers filled the courthouse steps in downtown Nashville!We had THREE venue changes and so much resistance BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED! 🔥🔥🔥#LetUsWorship pic.twitter.com/E1r26Z07tl— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) October 12, 2020
In a Facebook post before the 5 p.m. concert, Feucht invited followers to come worship.
“We can gather thousands. It’s officially a protest so it’s legal," Feucht said in the post.
Now, Metro Health Department Spokesman Brian Todd said multiple Metro Departments are investigating the event.
The investigation comes after health officials said event's organizers "did not submit an application to the Health Department or permit application to any Metro department."
"We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community. The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer," Metro Health Department Spokesman Brian Todd said in a statement on Monday.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake issued the following statement on the gathering:
At a time when Nashville has been making real progress at controlling the spread of the coronavirus, I am greatly disappointed that the organizer of Sunday’s event and those in attendance did not better prioritize their health and the health of others through social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. Personal responsibility is a necessity regardless of the purpose for a public event.
The organizers of Sunday’s religious event did not have any advance communication with the MNPD, and the police department was not present. Going forward, the police department will work with its Metro government partners, including the Health Department, to more effectively facilitate proactive contact with any future event organizers to explain Nashville’s public health and safety expectations. We are also reviewing Sunday’s event along with the Metro Health Department.
Feucht, who is a worship leader from California, has created controversy by defying COVID restrictions in a number of cities by holding concerts without permits. So far, he has held some two dozen outdoor concerts, often in defiance of city COVID regulations.
He was quoted by Religious News Service saying the concerts are a way of pushing back on restrictions and guidelines.
According to Feucht’s website, he is running for U.S. Congress. The ad on his website said “family values are being eroded.”
News 4 is continuing to investigate this story and will have more on air and online.