On Friday, August 14, 2020, a California superior court recognized Grace Community Church’s Constitutional right to worship indoors. But the very next day, the California Court of Appeal set aside Friday’s lower-court ruling. Undeterred, Grace Community Church met on Sunday, indoors, without face masks.
“We are not meeting because we want to be rebellious, we’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship Him,” Pastor John MacArthur maintained during his sermon on Sunday.
The Friday ruling came after the church filed a suit earlier in the week against California Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and public health officials, to stop the enforcement of California’s orders that forbid churches from meeting indoors. In the hearing, Judge James Chalfant, while denying most of all the county’s requests for restricting indoor worship gatherings, did express safety concerns. Grace Community Church’s attorneys agreed to comply with the county’s face mask and social distancing mandates, until the full hearing September 4th.
Grace Community Church’s attorney Jenna Ellis called the ruling a “historic win” and Pastor John MacArthur said, “I am very grateful the court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing us to meet. This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”
🚨BREAKING w/ @PaulJonna:
An HISTORIC WIN today for @johnmacarthur and @GraceComChurch! Judge allows indoor services with singing and no attendance cap! Church agrees to adhere to mask and social distancing until full hearing.
FIRST CA Court to recognize #ChurchIsEssential!
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) August 14, 2020
Attorney Ellis added,
This is a huge vindication for Pastor John and the Board of Elders at Grace Community Church, who have simply asked for their right to worship the Lord together in church to be acknowledged and protected. When I spoke with Pastor John after the hearing, he expressed sincere gratitude to the California court and Judge Chalfant. He said his congregation will be happy to comply with the judge’s temporary order. This is why John MacArthur is so deeply loved and respected by his congregation and all over the world. He is a gracious and firm leader, and his biblical stand for church being essential has now been rightly validated. We look forward to continuing to advocate on his behalf in asking the court to continue to protect the fundamental rights of churches.
Attorney Charles LiMandri asked for prayers so that others could resume indoor worship,
This result is indeed a great victory for all citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of religion. Pastor MacArthur’s love of God and country motivated him and all the Grace Community Church elders to resist the unjust government shut-down orders targeting people of faith. Their devotion and patriotism have brought about a result that respects the legitimate interests of both the church and state. This result makes it possible for the thousands of congregants of Grace to continue to gather together in their church to worship, while at the same time honoring the court’s requirement that reasonable and temporary safety measures be observed. This court ruling should stay in effect at least until there can be a full court hearing in this case on September 4, 2020. Please continue to pray that the courts allow this enlightened judge’s decision to stand so that all Californians can soon resume the worship of God in their respective churches.
California Court of Appeal Sets Aside Lower Courts Ruling; Upholds Ban
On Saturday, August 15, 2020, just hours after Judge Chalfant’s ruling, The California Court of Appeal set aside Friday’s lower court’s ruling allowing Grace Community Church to hold indoor worship gatherings. The decision upholds the County’s Health Officer orders that prohibit indoor worship services that was mandated because of the fear of the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles County issued the following statement after the court’s ruling on Saturday:
Los Angeles County is pleased that the California Court of Appeal recognizes the vital importance of our Health Officer Orders in protecting the lives and health of our residents as we work to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. We will continue to work closely with all religious institutions, including Grace Community Church, to make sure their congregants are protected and provided with accurate information about worshiping safely during this phase of the pandemic.Outdoor religious observances are permitted; participants must wear cloth face coverings and maintain six feet of distance from each other unless they live in the same household.The County is grateful to all residents and institutions for coming together to take the actions that will continue to move us forward, as a community, through our recovery.
Grace Community Church Worshiped Indoors Sunday
John MacArthur continued backing their statement “Christ, not Caesar, Is Head of the Church” on Sunday and once again defied the state’s orders by meeting indoors to worship and sing praises to their King Jesus Christ, risking being fined $1,000 and possible arrest. Videos can be found showing Grace Community Church congregants defying orders, not social distancing, and not wearing masks, which was agreed upon when lower court Judge James Chalfant delayed indoor restrictions. Apparently after The California Court of Appeal over-ruled Judge Chalfant’s ruling, Grace Community Church didn’t enforce that request.
1000s of people attend indoor service at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, no masks or social distancing required. Church defied judge’s order to stop holding services indoors. Video of people leaving. @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/4poa6l0cjg
— Emily Valdez KNX 1070 (@EmilyValdezKNX) August 16, 2020
We are not meeting because we want to be rebellious, we’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship Him.
John MacArthur was met with thunderous applause while he took the pulpit on Sunday and then joked, “All that and I haven’t even said anything.” He then declared, “We’re having church!” Pastor MacArthur stated, “it’s hard to figure out exactly what the city is trying to do, with us and to us, but we know they don’t want us to do exactly what we are doing right now. We are not meeting because we want to be rebellious, we’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship Him.”
— MSG Antonio Giuliano, USA (Ret.) (@Slave4YSHUA) August 16, 2020
As of this report, there have been no fines or arrests made.