California Christians took it to the beach and other public places over the past week in “Let Us Worship” events from Redding to San Diego.
Event organizers skirted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to shut down indoor services in much of California on July 13, citing the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a previous executive order, the governor prohibited congregants from singing at church functions.
The “Let Us Worship” events were led by Christian singer/songwriter Sean Feucht and sponsored by his non-profit Hold The Line.
Feucht posted video from his event at Cardiff State Beach, near San Diego, on Sunday, writing on Facebook, “JUST NO WORDS!!! Thousands gathered! Hundreds save and baptized! Unity released! Hope restored! Courage instilled! We are declaring A NEW JESUS PEOPLE MOVEMENT HAS BEGUN!!!!!!”
Feucht’s son, Ezra, was among those who got baptized.
“It’s just the most raw, organic, gritty gospel,” Feucht told Fox News regarding the events. “It’s been very eclectic, very diverse in terms of people praying and singing. People got healed, saved and delivered.”
Fox reported that over 5,000 people attended the San Diego event. Many defied a statewide order to wear face coverings, and the gathering also violated the San Diego County mandate on social distancing.
According to the 36-point county order, any violation would be “subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.” It doesn’t appear any citations have been issued in relation to the event, however.
California’s guidelines for religious locations also encourage those organizations to take reservations to limit the number of congregants at one time.
The San Diego gathering came after similar ones — though not as large — were held in Redding, Fresno, Bakersfield and Pasadena.
“I believe in Jesus Christ and the freedom to worship, and that’s why we’re here,” Vanessa Kelly, a mother of three who attended the Fresno service, told the Fresno Bee. “We love Jesus and we want to worship, and nothing’s going to stop us from doing that.”
California state Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, the highest-ranking Republican in the state, attended Feucht’s event in Bakersfield on Friday, where he estimated about 1,000 people were on hand at a park in the center of the city.
“We feel really called from the Lord to raise up this sound of worship in California,” Feucht said.
Grove explained, “God’s word says with every breath, let us praise the Lord.”
“It’s so important we invite the Lord into our cities and into our county and into our state and into our nation. It’s so important that the church rise up,” she added. “We need to say ‘Jesus loves you.’ “
The Senator says it how it is ???? pic.twitter.com/WmNyncrQHi
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) July 25, 2020
Bakersfield Republican Mayor Karen Goh, along with Grove, opened the service in prayer.
“What a joy it is to be able to gather together to worship God,” Goh said. “On the walls of the lobby in city hall, [city founder] Col. Thomas Baker’s inscription says ‘This is God’s country,’ and that was a declaration made in the 1800s over Bakersfield, California.
“We have declared that this is God’s country and a city of righteousness, and we are gathered as God’s people to help our community, to love our neighbors, to worship our God.”
Bakersfield last night was stunning! The mayor and @shannongrove opened in prayer and God really moved! Salvations, healings, prayers for racial reconciliation & HOPE!!! Jesus was lifted up!https://t.co/giGLKfxfhK
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) July 25, 2020
Feucht said he plans to take his “Let Us Worship” movement to Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 8, with the intent to “change the narrative over this beautiful city.”
After all of the recent violence, that’s a location clearly in need of God’s love and power.
Tim Thompson, founding pastor of 412 Church Murrieta in Riverside County in Southern California, praised Feucht’s events.
“I love what Sean is doing, and I believe it is going to be a movement reminiscent of Chuck Smith and the Jesus movement with the hippies,” Thompson said in a written statement to The Western Journal.
In 1965, Smith became pastor at Costa Mesa’s Calvary Chapel, which has grown from 25 members to about 1,400 churches worldwide, The Orange County Register reported.
Smith, who died in 2013, was famous for conducting mass beach baptism services in the 1970s as a leader in the Jesus People movement.
Reminiscent of that time, Thompson’s church held a beach baptism service in San Clemente, California, earlier this month.
Thompson is among multiple pastors in California who have ignored Newsom’s order to close down indoor church services.
He told The Western Journal that the number of people attending his church has tripled, which might result in 412 Murrieta going to four Sunday services (up from two pre-COVID) or finding a larger venue.
“People are coming from all over the place because they want to go in to church,” he said. “They want their kids to be in Sunday school. They want their kids to be around other Christian kids and not be walking around in fear. What we’ve found is our church is the one place of normality.”
In addition to individual churches engaging in civil disobedience by continuing to hold services, Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena is suing Newsom over his decisions to shut down indoor worship services, to prohibit singing during church gatherings, and to ban meeting in private homes for Bible studies.
Ché Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church, went forward with Sunday services after the governor’s order.
“As a pastor, I believe we’ve been essential for 2,000 years,” he told KCBS-TV.
California has birthed at least three major revivals over the past century-plus: Azusa Street in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, Billy Graham’s large-scale tent crusades in the late 1940s, and the Jesus People/charismatic movement in the late 1960s and the ’70s.
The first rumblings of revival might be taking place in the Golden State again, this time pushed into the public thanks to government edict.
As they say, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
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