John MacArthur, chancellor of The Master’s Seminary, pastor of Grace Community Church in Southern California, author, and founder of the internationally syndicated Grace to You radio program, continued to hold indoor worship services in defiance of government orders to stop because of COVID-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom had issued an executive order that banned all worship services in California indefinitely, whether in church parking lots, church buildings, or inside homes. Los Angeles County had issued a cease-and-desist order to MacArthur and threatened him with fines, jail, and contempt.
But the 81-year-old pastor sued the governor, the state’s attorney general, the city’s mayor, and other officials, seeking to stop the government from enforcing unconstitutional regulations it claimed were necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to MacArthur’s lawsuit, the Superior Court ruled that he and his church were under no court order barring such services. The California Court of Appeal, however, issued stay on that ruling.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works retaliated against MacArthur and his church by issuing a 30-day notice to terminate a lease agreement for land the church had used as a parking lot for 45 years. In the meantime, a court temporarily allowed Los Angeles County to suspend indoor worship services.
After a long battle, California and Los Angeles County settled the lawsuit MacArthur filed against them. They must pay him $800,000. The government decided to settle in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in February that California couldn’t enforce a ban on indoor worship services. The county also rescinded the least termination as part of the settlement.
“We are very grateful for our Lord’s protection and providence throughout this past year,” MacArthur said. “Our commitment to the Word of God and his church has never wavered. We have simply continued to stand firm, as we always have and always will. We put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the church. Over the past year, our congregation has seen his hand of blessing in ways like never before, and the Lord’s promise has been realized: ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’ I am thankful for the advocacy of our attorneys, Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri, and this outcome.”
Photo credit: IslandsEnd – Own work, CC BY 3.0