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LA County clears John MacArthur’s megachurch in COVID-19 ‘outbreak’ probe


Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor FOLLOW

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/la-county-clears-john-macarthurs-church-of-covid-19-outbreak.html?uid=03bea79789

Pastor John MacArthur leads Grace Community Church in California in a video posted October 2020. | Screenshot: Grace Community Church

Public health officials in Los Angeles have lifted all outbreak-related requirements and restrictions on Grace Community Church, which were put in place last month after three cases connected to the California church were confirmed.

“We are glad to announce that we received a notice from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health … saying that we have been cleared of COVID-19 outbreak,” the church says on its website.

L.A. County requires places of worship to report to the Public Health Department when there are at least three COVID-19 cases within a span of two weeks, after which the agency determines whether there is an outbreak.

“After a thorough investigation, Public Health officials have decided to rescind all outbreak-related requirements and restrictions on Grace Community Church,” the church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, said.

“Praise the Lord for His blessings and perfect provision. Thank you, Pastor John, for your example as you have walked this road,” a church member, Matt Mckinney, wrote on Grace Community’s Facebook page. “Your humble and unwavering strength, anchored in your trust of the Lord’s sovereignty to work this out to the counsel of His own will, for His own purposes and glory, are such an encouragement. Blessings my brother.”

Thousands of people have been attending the Sun Valley, California, church after it reopened in the summer despite restrictions on indoor worship services during the coronavirus pandemic. MacArthur and elders of the church said it was the church’s biblical duty to remain open and that they would not disobey “our Lord’s clear commands.”

The church has also argued that in the many months it’s been open, no one had been hospitalized with the disease.

In response to the three confirmed cases last month, Jenna Ellis, attorney for the church, said it was not an “outbreak,” given the more than 7,000 people who attend.

“It has never been the church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion,” she said.

Indoor worship services are currently banned in Los Angeles County, which has a Tier 1 status (when COVID-19 is “widespread“). Congregations are only allowed to meet outdoors with certain restrictions.

Grace Community Church and Pastor MacArthur have been in a legal battle with the county over the restrictions.

“They don’t want us to meet, that’s obvious,” MacArthur said after the county secured a stay of the trial court ruling in August that would have allowed the congregation to meet indoors with masks and social distancing.

“They’re not willing to work with us. They just want to shut us down. But we’re here to bring honor to the Lord.” 

MacArthur said he didn’t know “exactly what the city is trying to do with us and to us,” and clarified that the indoor service was not aimed at being “rebellious.” “We’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship Him.”

The church’s attorneys argued that the county’s demands to comply with COVID-19 restrictions were unreasonable. The church offered to have the congregation comply with mask-wearing and social distancing indoors until the matter could be fully heard.

At the start of the pandemic earlier this year, Grace Community Church initially moved to a livestream model and closed down in-person services. But within a few weeks, MacArthur said parishioners started showing up again. They decided to restart in-person worship services, with church leaders saying that the government did not have the authority to stop them from gathering.

Media claim megachurch is source of COVID-19 ‘outbreak.’ Turns out, it was just three cases.


Grace Community Church, the Los Angeles-area megachurch that re-opened in defiance of coronavirus-related lockdowns, is pushing back against what media are claiming is an “outbreak” originating at the church.

Multiple Los Angeles-area news outlets claimed last week that a COVID-19 “outbreak” is happening at the church, framing the story around the church’s defiance to lockdown orders.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “Coronavirus outbreak strikes L.A. megachurch that defied public health orders.”

Local news station KTLA-TV reported, “Coronavirus outbreak strikes defiant Sun Valley megachurch that held indoor services despite public health orders.”

According to attorneys for the church, the “outbreak” is actually just three confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Jenna Ellis, an attorney for Grace Community Church, called the stories “grossly misleading” meant to incite “fear-mongering” against the church.

“Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news. 0.04% is not an ‘outbreak.’ The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader,” Ellis said, the Daily Wire reported.

She added, “It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed to both the Los Angeles Times and KTLA that the “outbreak” was just three COVID-19 cases.

More from the LA Times:

Under the county health officer’s order, places of worship must report to the county Public Health Department when at least three coronavirus cases are identified among staff or worshipers within a span of 14 days so the agency can determine whether there is an outbreak.

Grace Community Church is locked in a heated legal battle with Los Angeles authorities.

The church continues to hold indoor worship services in defiance of a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, which ordered the church to stop holding indoor services. The city has asked a judge to hold the church in contempt of court, according to the LA Times.

3 coronavirus cases confirmed at John MacArthur’s megachurch

Pastor John MacArthur leads Grace Community Church in California in a video posted October 2020. | Screenshot: Grace Community Church

Public health officials in Los Angeles said Thursday that they have confirmed at least three cases of COVID-19 connected to Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

Officials investigating the COVID-19 infections told the Los Angeles Times that they will be working closely with the church to limit the transmission of the virus but did not provide any other details.

Places of worship in L.A. County, where the church is located, are required to report to the county Public Health Department when there are at least three coronavirus cases within a span of two weeks so the agency can determine whether there is an outbreak, the Times reported.

The Christian Post reached out to MacArthur and his church for comment on Friday. In a statement shared with CP, Jenna Ellis, attorney for MacArthur and Grace Community Church, said:

“Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news: 0.0004 or 0.043% is not an ‘outbreak.’ … It has never been the church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.”

It does not appear that the announcement has affected current operations at the church.

Owen Strachan, an associate professor of Christian theology and director of the center for public theology at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, revealed on Twitter Thursday that he delivered a presentation on transgenderism to the church’s men’s ministry on Wednesday night.

“I did not have ‘speak at Grace Community Church’ on my 2020 bingo card. Pure joy to speak on transgenderism last night for the men’s ministry. (Video coming.) Praise God for this faithful congregation, for Dr. MacArthur’s godly example and teaching, and for many friends in LA,” Strachan wrote.

The announcement of the coronavirus cases at Grace Community Church comes months after MacArthur and elders of the church decided to defy a second round of public health restrictions on indoor worship services and reopen in the summer. They contended that it was the church’s biblical duty to remain open and that they would not disobey “our Lord’s clear commands.”

MacArthur said last month that he wasn’t aware of any infections or hospitalizations due to the virus from an estimated 7,000 people who have attended his church amid the pandemic.

“We hear the other day that there is one death per 100,000 people from COVID in California at this present time, so the narrative doesn’t work. They can’t sell us this lie anymore that makes you shut down the church. We’ve had about 7,000 people in church the last couple of weeks. We don’t know of anybody sick. We’ve never had anybody in the hospital with COVID,” MacArthur said during a Q Session last month in which he urged pastors to open their churches because the supposed need for indefinite lockdowns is a “lie.”

He argued that while it’s “crystal clear that God has ordained government,” he will no longer aid and abet the “lie” of the ongoing lockdowns in response to COVID-19.

“Being a pastor means you’re a truth teller. That means you’re truth teller when it comes to the Bible. That means you protect your people from deception that comes from the world. That’s part of being a shepherd. You don’t want to aid and abet the lie. This is a lie and you can’t necessarily say that everybody that’s involved in it has an ulterior motive but the lie is dominating and you need to be a truth teller and you need to do your homework,” MacArthur said.

LA County Loses Court Battle with Grace Community Church — So County Sends Eviction Notice to the Church on Sunday


Reported By Jim Hoft | Published August 30, 2020 at 9:12pm

On August 12th Los Angeles County filed charges prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding religious services. But a local judge decided in favor of Grace Community Church to allow religious service if congregants wore face coverings and practiced social distancing.

Pastor John MacArthur said at the time that the church was meeting indoors because it was their constitutional right and that it was commanded by God for his people to come together in worship.

Factories, pot shops, liquor stores and department stores are allowed to stay open but not houses of worship.

County officials did not sit back after losing last week’s ruling.

On Sunday Los Angeles County sent a letter of eviction to Grace Community Church from a county owned parking lot. They informed the church they can no longer use the parking lot they have used for over four decades.

Los Angeles officials gave church officials 30 days to evacuate the premises.

The county broke their agreement that was in effect since for 45 years.

 

Constitutional Law Attorney Jenna Ellis, Special Counsel to Thomas More Society,  released this statement on the eviction notice.

This is government tyranny.

“Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order. In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats’ message to Americans is clear–if you do not bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you. The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable.”

As Attorney Ellis said, this is nothing more than harassment and abuse!

Here is the full eviction notice plus the contracts with the church that date back to 2001.

Los Angeles County Serves Eviction Notice to Grace Community Church by Jim Hoft on Scribd

Todd Starnes has more on the eviction notice.

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