(Mercury News) The 400-member church congregation hadn’t gathered face-to-face in five months.
Conceding to California restrictions that closed churches early in the COVID19-pandemic and later severely limited attendance indoors, churchgoers have been gathering on Zoom and FaceTime because, as they said, “God is everywhere.”
But when Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed another ban on religious services — no singing allowed indoors — Victory Outreach San Jose had had enough.
“To say you can’t sing, that’s the time-out,” said Victory Outreach Pastor Joe Woolwine. “For us, it’s not singing, it’s worship.”
On Sunday, in an act of both protest and togetherness, several hundred members of Victory Outreach and other Christian congregations gathered at San Jose City Hall plaza and — with the house jazz band playing on the steps — sang out.
Wearing masks and spreading out six feet apart, a lively group swayed, clapped and sang “in the name of Jesus, enemy defeated, we will shout it out.”
In late May, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a claim by a church in Chula Vista that the restrictions on religious gatherings were unconstitutional. On July 16, churches in Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Oroville filed a federal lawsuit claiming their First Amendment rights were also violated and made the case that while Gov. Gavin Newsom has protected protesters’ freedom of speech, he hadn’t given the same protection to church members.
In the midst of Sunday’s singing service at City Hall — replete with a 10-member choir and thundering testimonials — Vince Strangis made a similar..
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Editors Note. This article was written by JULIA PRODIS SULEK and published at Mercury News. Title changed by Pulpit & Pen
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