Pastor John MacArthur has posted a video explaining why his church in California has opened and defied the state rules which lead to him getting an official letter.
MacArthur leads Grace Community Church, an evangelical megachurch in LA, an area which is on a 'monitoring list' of counties that are being observed for Covid-19 and therefore must close places of worship, shopping malls, hairdressers and gyms.
However, MacArthur has decided Grace Comunity Church will hold physical gatherings and "We will sing, we will pray, we will fellowship, we will proclaim the word of God" he said.
In a statement defending the elders' decision, he speaks about God's ultimate authority, saying: "As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands."
After a lengthy explanation of why they think this is Biblical, it ends: " It is apparent that those original projections of death were wrong and the virus is nowhere near as dangerous as originally feared. Still, roughly forty percent of the year has passed with our church essentially unable to gather in a normal way. Pastors’ ability to shepherd their flocks has been severely curtailed. The unity and influence of the church has been threatened...That forces churches to choose between the clear command of our Lord and the government officials. Therefore, following the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, we gladly choose to obey Him."
Over 20,000 people have 'signed-up' to their statement in agreement.
He explained in a video that the church has made outside seating for about 1,000 people available and will still live-stream,
"We're going to do everything we can to accommodate people and make them feel welcome", he said and added that there would be masks and sanitiser available.
Evangelist Franklin Graham wrote a tweet that was then reposted by MacArthur, saying: "After Pastor John MacArthur announced that his congregation at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, would be assembling in obedience to God’s Word, he received a letter from LA county officials threatening repercussions such as fines & possible arrest."
MacArthur said in the video statement that followed the tweet that they had received support from "some pretty significant places" and that legal experts in Washington wanted to help the church defend its position.
He promised to have church in-person every Sunday and said he was dissappointed with how few church leaders were "standing up" to closure and accused them of not "shepherding their people."