How Two California Megachurches Kept Worshiping

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John MacArthur takes a stand against regulations, while Greg Laurie finds creative ways to comply.

Two California churches were so eager to meet last weekend that when their services began, worshipers erupted in applause.

In Sun Valley, congregants filling Grace Community Church’s 3,500-seat sanctuary rose and cheered, some documenting the moment with their iPhones, when pastor John MacArthur opened the second week in a row of in-person services.

MacArthur—who has taken an outspoken stand against churches yielding to government regulations on worship gatherings—said this Sunday was “a very special day for a more abundant joy” since the congregation was together in person once again.

The Grace to You preacher received so much attention for his stance—from the elders’ viral post on the church’s website to a segment on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program—that the church added an additional 1,000 chairs outdoors yesterday. Prior to the pandemic, attendance at the church’s three services averaged around 8,000 combined. On Sunday, most attendees were not wearing masks, social distancing, or avoiding contact, as MacArthur told Carlson, they “didn’t buy the narrative.”

The congregation sang “We Gather Together,” which MacArthur pointed out was written when Dutch Protestants met for church despite being forbidden by their king. MacArthur preached on Jesus’ role as divider and judge, saying that in recent months, “I’ve never heard so many people talking about death on such a superficial level. You’re talking about eternity, eternal hell or eternal heaven.”

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