VENTURA (CBSLA) — A Newbury Park pastor defied an emergency temporary restraining order issued Friday in which he was told to refrain from holding additional indoor worship.
Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel held services Sunday in defiance of the order, and health orders that aim to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
McCoy first re-opened his church on Palm Sunday with social distancing, allowing members to take communion with long, visible lines.
“I’m gonna stand for what I believe in and I’m gonna stand for freedom,” said worshipper Megan Adams.
In late June, the church opened for indoor services as did others across the state, but has refused to stop indoor services even after Governor Newsom issued a ban on large gatherings last month.
“I realize they have the law on their side but it’s a misappropriation of the law that’s bothering us,” church member Bob Schuett said.
On Friday, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco granted the order, which requires Godspeak to close its indoor services, moving its congregation inside, ordering congregants to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
Ventura County moved to get the temporary restraining order as McCoy said he would not stop holding services indoors as he feels worship is essential.
McCoy Saturday posted an update, indicating that the church would be open, but warned those who wanted to attend that they may be cited.
“Of course, we will be mindful of fire codes and we will limit it and will close the doors,” he said. “The first 1,000 people could feasibly [Sunday] receive a citation as the emergency temporary restraining order approved by the judge on Friday declares that not only will I be targeted with a citation, but as will the first 1 to 1,000 ‘Does’, whether they be congregants or visitors.”
Church members say McCoy has suggested that for people above 60 years old or with certain concerns, they are free to choose to stay home instead and tune into the services online.
“Our congregation is educated, they’re making a decision as citizens of this country,” the pastor said.
Pastor McCoy says he also uses UV lights and other sanitizing measures, and he follows capacity guidelines for the church but refuses to close or move services outside.
A majority of the people at the church support the pastor’s decision to keep doors open but some are hoping it will shut down indoor services in compliance with coronavirus outdoors.
A court hearing in this matter is scheduled for August 31.