Grace Community Church is appealing a judge’s order banning the Sun Valley house of worship from holding indoor church services during the coronavirus.
The appeal was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, four days after Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff issued a preliminary injunction, finding that allowing worshipping inside the church created an “immediate threat to public health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Beckloff heard arguments on Los Angeles County’s motion for a preliminary injunction on Sept. 4, then took the case under submission before ruling Thursday. Lawyers for the county maintained the county health officer’s order preventing indoor worshipping was meant to reduce the risk of the spread of the coronavirus, but church attorneys said the county order was unconstitutional and infringed on the rights of congregation members.
Beckloff said the health order is not a ban on worship, but instead provides that it “must take place other than indoors.”
However, church lawyers say it was too hot during recent weekends for outdoor worshipping.
The church held a packed morning service Sunday. Pastor John MacArthur prefaced the service by complaining about the many health measures required by local and state authorities to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
“The question has come up a number of times about why Grace Church does not just comply with the orders that have been laid down for churches, and I thought it might be helpful to give you the list of things that are required of us as a church, so that you understand how utterly impossible that would be,” MacArthur said.
He then read a long list of requirements, occasionally drawing laughter from parishioners at rules about parking, restroom protocols and social distancing.
MacArthur said following all the rules would “completely shut the church down.”
“Obviously, this is not constitutional, but more importantly, it goes against the will of the Lord of the church, who calls us together,” the pastor said.