THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) — A church in the town of Newbury Park opened its doors Sunday for members to take communion.

Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks resigned from his position as a city councilman before making the controversial decision to welcome worshippers inside.

He said the service will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to practice physical distancing, but it will still be in violation of the state and county orders that categorizes churches as non-essential.

“The church is essential. It’s not to be considered non-essential and this is critical to us as Christians,” Pastor McCoy said. “I don’t want to put anyone in danger, never have. I am completely abiding by the CDC standards.”

Outside the church, ushers stayed six feet from worshippers and made sure they also maintained that distance from each other. Inside, instead of 400 chairs, there were just ten.

The communion itself was individually wrapped for people to take themselves.

“It’s kind of up to the individual as to what’s essential in their lives,” said church member Jim Van Wyck. “In terms of our faith and this church, it’s probably more essential than anything.”

Others were upset that the church was actually going through with communion despite guidelines to stay at home as much as possible as coronavirus cases continue to rise locally and globally.

“I think it’s just really dangerous,” said Jennifer Morrison. “I’m a Christian myself so I understand the desire to want to worship together but I just think it’s putting lives at risk unnecessarily.”

Officials from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office came by before the service started, making sure the social distancing order was being honored, saying they had no intention to take any enforcement action.

Pastor McCoy says as long as law enforcement is okay with what the church is doing and they’re practicing social distancing, he’ll consider offering another communion in the coming weeks.

Comments (3)
  1. Amy says:

    Technology is a wonderful thing – learn to use it. You just exposed your congregation to an awful virus, which may not be lethal to THEM, but they can spread to others. This is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been watching my services online for a month. My spiritual health/growth has not been hindered.

  2. Rich Tanner says:

    The virus does not compare to the seasonal flu or yearly pneumonia deaths (83,000 this year). WE DO NOT stop work, life, churches, because of those. This seems to be political because Trump is the President, perhaps, but we must stop this way of dealing with health issues. We are shooting ourselves in the foot to cure an ear infection…

  3. Lori Butler says:

    So let me get this straight — those who sincerely want a latte had and have the right to go into a Starbucks or fast food drive thrus on any Sunday. Yet on the very same Sunday Pastor Rob McCoy, who took more sensible measures to protect than I see at these non essential over priced corporate establishments doing, was reviled and lost his job for modifying his religious practices and not allowing for the government to completely strip them form him,

    Stores like Starbucks are not essential, unless they are giving food and beverage away for free. This is the one company in America that can afford to shut down, pay all of its employees to safely stay home and still come out of this thing one of the richest companies in the world.

    In these desperate times a latte is a luxury for the rich who have money unlike the common person in CA living paycheck to paycheck and who may have lost everything. They will need good people and volunteers like those at Godspeak Calvary Chapel to gather safely using social distancing to hand out free safely provided services and items like free meals and free coffee and yes even free safely packaged communion.

    Starbucks is not essential. You can and should make your coffee at home. No food is even prepared at Starbucks, it’s all prepacked and delivered to Starbucks by Golden State Foods just like this wise pastor packaged and handed out communion.

    When you force people to worship online and there are people so poor they don’t have a computer, internet or phone to do that with –you are taking away their first amendment right to freedom of religion and setting up a class system for the rich and another one for the poor.

    Our government is deeply out of touch when lattes are essential and worship is not.

    According to Barna Research ,the authority on researching religion in our country. 84% of Americans pray. 62% regularly attend worship. How can you justify totally taking away all religious practice from way more than half our citizens instead of modifying it in the same way you would fast food service and on Easter of all days. Modifying and accommodating for the greater good sounds like democracy and that was what this fine Pastor was standing up for.

    Totally taking away a basic civil right of one class of people – the religious — out of fear of them while offering those rights to coffee and fast food lovers instead is totalitarian government, It’s wrong and shameful.

    While Cold Stone emailed me three times letting me know they are here for me and encouraged me to come in, I find their sincerity a little cold. Pardon the pun.

    No thanks Cold Stone — I really would rather go to church if I must go out, I know whose really here for me and it’s the Lord. I’m keeping pretty good company on this one as the founding Father’s of this nation chose this right to be the number right for us all in our Constitution.

    Just because a Starbucks on every corner has replaced the safety factor and pride of having a church or place of worship on every corner in our country — it doesn’t mean you can replace the right to assemble and freedom of worship in the Constituion with the right to assembly only for purposes of consuming coffee in a godless manner.

    If you have money for food, you have money to cook at home. So stay at home.

    If you have no money and you have no food, chances are your going to need the help of a church or faith based organization and we the people of faith would like our constitutional right to be there to help you physically, financially and spiritually. We won’t hug you or touch you but we will meet your practical needs and we’ll pray for you. I’m pretty sure the Lord can hear a prayer through a mask.

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