Women walk from the parking lot Sunday morning, Sept. 27, to the main entrance of Kingdom Life Church in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

OAKLAND — Despite fears from the town manager that weekend gatherings last month inside Oakland’s Kingdom Life Church could have become a superspreader for COVID-19, state health officials said Wednesday no positive cases have been linked to the event.

The indoor gatherings occurred more than three weeks ago, from Sept. 25-27, and appeared to involve more people than state rules allowed. The events also featured a Christian worship leader from California who had been traveling the country for events.

Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention spokesman Robert Long said in an email Wednesday that the CDC “has not opened an outbreak investigation” with Kingdom Life Church, nor had any COVID-19 cases been linked to the events. An outbreak is defined as having three or more cases within 14 days.

Jamie Dickson, senior pastor at Kingdom Life Church in Oakland, speaks in a video posted online. Facebook screenshot

“We’re really thankful that there are no sicknesses and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way,” Kingdom Life Church Senior Pastor Jamie Dickson said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Earlier in September, the High Street church announced it would move forward cautiously with its planned 2020 Tenacious Love conference. A week later, the church announced it would cancel the conference because of “state regulations and safety concerns” related to the coronavirus pandemic, and refunded ticket-holders.

Days later, though, the church then announced “Worship Night” would be held in its place, which was livestreamed and hosted patrons for an in-person audience. Christian worship leader and singer Sean Feucht, from Redding, California, who had been traveling the country, spoke on Saturday, while other events were held on Friday night and Sunday morning.

A citizen called the police that Saturday night, citing violation of an emergency ordinance because it appeared more than 50 people were gathered indoors. Police also responded to the church on the Friday.

Vehicles fill the parking lot Saturday night, Sept. 26, at Kingdom Life Church in Oakland, after police received reports the church was violating rules for gathering size during the coronavirus pandemic. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

Dickson previously told the Morning Sentinel that he was unsure how many people attended the event, but that he informed the town and law enforcement officials the safety measures that were in place, including social distancing, hand sanitizer, masks and one-way entrances and exits. Deputy Chief Rick Stubbert of the Oakland Police Department said Dickson has cooperated with authorities and “indicated that this event grew larger than what he had planned.”

Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman worried that the gathering had the potential of becoming a COVID-19 superspreader.

The Oakland Police Department and town of Oakland turned the investigation of the matter over to Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office. The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Bowman said local officials are moving on. “Everybody got the point and life is back to normal,” he said.

Dickson said Wednesday that Kingdom Life Church has added new safety measures to its protocols and is encouraging virtual attendance to its services, which are streamed online.

“The thing that we learned was the anxiety in the small towns and we were just a little shocked with the anxiety of other people,” Dickson said. “We have to understand the vigilance that we have to take moving forward and we’re taking on a ton of new measures and trying to take every day safely.”

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