More churches resist shutdown of worship; one concedes. Pr. John MacArthur is open to starting a jail ministry.

May be a beautiful sanctuary, but in California the government won’t let you use it. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In news over the last few days, Rev. Dr. John MacArthur said he would start a jail ministry if County officials toss him in the slammer, the Archbishop of San Francisco stands up to de facto shutdown of Masses, and one church concedes to the severe pressures from Santa Clara County.

Pastor John MacArthur open to a jail ministry.

Christian Headlines – 9/17/20 – John MacArthur Says He’ll Start a “Jail Ministry” if Arrested for Worshiping Indoors.

Article says a court issued an injunction last week prohibiting worship service at Grace Community Church.

In a television interview Pastor MacArthur indicated the county sent a letter threatening fines or six months jail time for him. He cited the apostle Paul has one of his heroes. Explaining a bit about Paul’s ministry, he said

“…when he went into a town, he didn’t ask what the hotel was like – he asked what the jail was like because he knew that’s where he was going to spend his time. So I don’t mind being a little apostolic. If they want to tuck me into jail, I’m open for a jail ministry. I’ve done a lot of other ministries and haven’t had the opportunity to do that one, so bring it on.”

I still don’t think the county has an appreciation for the firmness of conviction when folks in the Grace Community Church environment make a decision.

I’m also not sure the County officials appreciate the devastating impact from a video of John MacArthur being pulled out of the pulpit and hauled off in handcuffs.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Diocese of San Francisco starts to resist

On 9/13/20 the Archbishop of San Francisco issued a memo to Priests of the Archdiocese. In the memo the Archbishop outlines the repressive restrictions the city of San Francisco has placed on the body of Christ. The mayor will only allow 15 people to participate in outdoor worship service. 15.

Starting on 9/14/20, the mayor will graciously dispense His Royal permission for 50 people in outdoor worship service.

When live streaming a worship service, a church may only have 12 people in the building. From the letter it appears that restriction will continue.

Inside worship is limited to 100 people or 25% of the capacity of the facility. For St. Mary’s Cathedral, which could hold 1,000 people with proper social distancing, this is a restriction to 10% of capacity.

Governments have authority to regulate churches. The Archbishop provides this example:

“I have often given the example of building a church building: we build our churches to code, and the relevant civil authority will send an inspector to make sure that we do, as is the state’s right and responsibility; however, the state does not tell the Church how to arrange its liturgical space, for it has no authority to do so, as that applies uniquely to the Church.”

He continues:

“Similarly, the civil government can issue regulations to protect public health that apply to everyone, the worshipping community included, but those regulations have to be reasonable and consistent.”

He then points out that the regulations for the shutdown are neither reasonable nor consistent.

Protest are allowed without any restrictions whatsoever and in fact have seen participation by many government officials. Shopping in large stores, citing specifically Nordstrom’s, is allowed with no limit as to the number of people only a requirement to maintain social distancing. So essentially shopping facilities can have as many people as can be fit in with 6 feet distance.

My observations at big box retail stores show social distancing is followed by customers and staff when it is convenient. I’m guessing San Francisco is the same.

The 12 or 15 or 50 or 100 limits are identified by the Archbishop as completely arbitrary. He is obviously correct.

The net effect of the arbitrary rules which only apply to churches is to essentially shut down worship:

“Similarly, the civil government can issue regulations to protect public health that apply to everyone, the worshipping community included, but those regulations have to be reasonable and consistent. They cannot be so restrictive as to effectively ban public worship.”

The Archbishop is calling on Catholics to begin speaking out against these restrictions.

A rally is planned for 9/20/20 by 3 parishes. They will have three processions to the City Hall where they will hold Mass for up to 800 people in groups of 50. Wouldn’t it be a delight to see 16 different Masses running simultaneously?

Check out the promo for the “Free the Mass” – Walk for Freedom to Worship rally.

One church concedes the fight

HillFaith – 9/16/20 – California Church Changes Course, Most Services Back Outdoors – North Valley Baptist Church has moved their worship services outdoors. This is after promising they would not submit to the harsh restrictions imposed on all churches in California.

Don’t be too hard on the pastor for his decision to surrender. The county has imposed over $50,000 in fines against the church. Keep in mind this is the locale where the county had spies infiltrate worship services to monitor what the church was doing.

After the church submitted, the County dropped its lawsuit against the church.

Christian Headlines – 9/15/20 – Calif. Church That Faced Fines Moves to Outdoor Services: “I Do Not Want to See People Lost on My Watch.” – The sanctuary of the church will seat 3,000 people.

As mentioned in above article the church conceded and is now holding their worship services outside.

The church presented multiple options to the county for how to hold worship services inside, including additional reduction in capacity and multiple services. Obviously none of those are acceptable.

During his sermon, the pastor complemented and praised the government officials.

With the church’s surrender and submission, the County dropped its lawsuit.

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