A megachurch in California, once battling for the right to have church services and stay open, is now battling to not go to prison or be fined into oblivion, as California prosecutors have levied threats of criminal charges for each individual congregation members, amounting to thousands of individual $1000 fines and jail time for up to a year for violators.
In a letter dated August 13, 2020, the Prosecutor’s office in Pasadena informed Harvest Rock Church, led by the defacto head of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Pastor Ché Ahn, that they were revved up and ready to criminally charge every congregant member who chose to show up at the church, including the pastor, the staff and parishioners, if they did not immediately desist worshipping together on the Lord’s day.
The letter is to remind you that violations of these Orders are criminal in nature. Each day in violation is a separate violation and carries with it a potential punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine per violation.” [emphasis added]
Your compliance with these orders is not discretionary, it is mandatory. Any violation in the future will subject your Church, owners, administrators, operators, staff, and parishioners to the above-mentioned criminal penalties as well as the potential closure of your Church.”
According to Liberty Counsel, the firm representing the church:
Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional COVID-19 orders. The governor’s orders prohibit all in-person worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship. This ban applies to about 80 percent of the population. In the remaining 20 percent, limited in-person worship is permitted but no singing and chanting. Harvest International Ministry includes 162 churches in California and 65,000 affiliate churches and ministries worldwide.
Though Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church has garnered most of the attention and publicity for being restarting their services after a lengthy shutdown, hundreds of Churches in California have been defying Newsom for weeks and months before GCC ever did, if many even closed at all.
Harvest Rock Church opened its in-person services back in late May, joining 1200 other pastors in a day of defiance that set the date for reopening their services despite shutdown orders. They launched a lawsuit against the state in June, and have been a thorn in the side of government officiants wanting to shut them down since.
Let us hope that the actions of Harvest Rock Church would stiffen the spines of disobedient congregations not yet open, or give courage to biblically sound congregations already open and facing similar government tyranny.