Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that the July 10-11 youth conference slated to be held at Charis Bible College and canceled July 9 was to be "hosted by another ministry that is supportive of Andrew Wommack Ministries but is not associated with us," stated AWMI spokesperson Eileen Quinn. Quinn declined to name the ministry. Additionally, Quinn noted AWMI did not receive a cease and desist order, but a cease and decist letter. She said, "It was a Cease and Desist Letter vs. a Cease and Desist Order. They didn’t file an injunction against us in court, which is what makes it an order. They just notified us by letter."
A youth conference scheduled to be held at Charis Bible College was canceled July 9 after a recent visitor to the Woodland Park campus tested positive for COVID-19.
A ministry separate from but supportive of Andrew Wommack Ministries canceled the Kingdom Youth Conference scheduled for July 10-11 the day before the conference was to begin when the ministry learned that a guest who had attended the Summer Family Bible Conference, held on the campus from June 29 to July 3, was subsequently tested positive for the virus, said Eileen Quinn, spokesperson for the ministries.
“We believe that person was exposed to the virus before coming to the event and became symptomatic afterward,” Quinn said.
The college and ministry leadership have been working closely with the Teller County Public Health and Environment with the goal of developing agreed operational safety plans for all upcoming events, Quinn said, noting the college had not received any cease-and-desist order for the youth conference.
However, the ministry did receive a cease-and-desist letter from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on July 2 while the bible conference was in session.
“They (the ministry) did not go through the formal process with the county,” said Teller County Commissioner Marc Dettenrieder. “We are working with them because there is the potential that this will turn into a legal matter with the state.”
Gabi Johnson, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said organizers confirmed that the Bible conference drew an estimated 300-500 people indoors, to the college auditorium.
A June variance issued to Teller County with regard to pandemic precautions specifically limits indoor crowds to 175 people.
“We will monitor the situation and evaluate our legal options, which can include further enforcement of the cease and desist through court action,” Johnson said.
Despite the cease-and-desist letter, the Bible conference continued through July 3. Ministry founder Andrew Wommack balked at the order. “We want to protect everyone from getting sick, but this is a violation of our constitutional right to peaceably assemble,” he said. “We feel like we have already gone to great lengths to do what we can do to comply, short of telling people they can’t attend.”
Wommack said the ministry has retained Liberty Counsel, a national nonprofit litigation, education, and public policy organization with an emphasis on First Amendment and other Constitutional rights.
In a letter to the state Attorney General, the Counsel argued that Gov. Jared Polis has permitted thousands of people to gather in mass protests to exercise their First Amendment rights.
On his Facebook page, Wommack writes: “I have respectfully refused to comply with the artificial limit on the number of people who can attend. We are firmly in the ‘crosshairs’ of our liberal state government. Liberty Counsel has agreed to represent us and we are fighting back. I believe it is not only our constitutional right but our duty to stop this extreme overreach of government that allows people to riot and pillage but not assemble to worship the Lord.”
In his conclusion on the page, Wommack asks for prayers from his followers. “I’m convinced I’m doing what the Lord would have me do, but I don’t relish the battle we find ourselves in. Jamie (his wife) and I — along with all of my staff members that are having to deal with this — really need God’s wisdom and guidance to navigate these waters we have never sailed through before. There are hidden mines everywhere but we will make it to the other side.”