Church

South Bay Pastor Vows to Hold Service Soon, Defying State, Local Orders

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Pastor Mike McClure of San Jose’s Calvary Chapel has vowed to fully reopen the church despite local and state orders mandating that it remain closed.

McClure made the announcement Sunday during a sermon that the church posted online where he made it clear his next sermon will be inside the church during a regular service.

“We need to learn we need each other,” McClure said. “I don’t care. I will never close down the church again. This is God’s house and man doesn’t have a right to close its doors.”

A church administrator said Calvary is following the constitution and Trump’s lead.

The administrator said that while Calvary plans to encourage members to adhere to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, no one will be turned away for not wearing a mask.

Some church members said they would not attend services inside the church because they feel it’s too risky.

Gov. Gavin Newson’s decision to keep churches closed was affirmed in a court ruling this weekend. But 1,200 California pastors have announced plans to defy state orders and hold services next Sunday.

Now that President Trump has declared houses of worship essential, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will issue coronavirus safety guidelines for religious gatherings by Monday.

But for one church based in Richmond that has offered drive-in services for years, not much will change. On Sunday, the First Presbyterian church in Richmond held a drive-in service in a Safeway parking lot in Pinole.

“We only use a radio so people can listen in their cars with the windows rolled up,” said Jim Wheeler, the church’s pastor.

Now that President Trump has declared houses of worship essential, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will issue coronavirus safety guidelines for religious gatherings by Monday. Marianne Favro reports.

But this drive-in service was not created because of the pandemic. It has been going strong since 1973, but it’s the only way churches are supposed to gather under the current order in Contra Costa County. What’s different now is the increased need for this option.

“Now with the pandemic people are dying for a personal connection, a chance to just wave at someone and say ‘hi,’” Wheeler said. “And it helps those who don’t have technology.”

The service is so popular the church plans to offer another drive-in option in Portuguese.

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