California Churches Cope with Restrictions, Fires

As Coronavirus cases surged throughout the Golden State of California, churches were banned from indoor worship services. Social media websites struggled to handle the sudden increase in live streaming. In addition to restrictions, fires have raged across the state for several weeks, placing further obstacles in the path of traditional weekly worship gatherings.

“No matter the obstacles, the California/Nevada Church of God still found a way to stay true to the Great Commission and the call to worship God in community,” stated California/Nevada Administrative Bishop Sean O’Neal.

Churches such as Living Waters Christian Fellowship, in the sunny Orange County neighborhood of Fountain Valley, have taken their Sunday morning worship experiences outside for “Church on the Lot,” complete with a “Kids Corner,” outdoor worship and online streaming for those watching, from Southern California to friends in South America.

“There is no place like home,” said Rev. Deena Querry, who co-pastors Living Waters with her husband Kevin Querry, after the church was allowed this month to meet for the first time since June because of strict state regulations.

Living Waters Christian Fellowship is one of dozens of Church of God congregations that have “left the building” and taken their worship services outdoors this summer. With precautionary protocols in place, from social distancing to sanitizing, no COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at any of the region’s churches.

Worshippers gather under a tent outside a California church (photo courtesy of CA/NV state Office)

“From Yucaipa in the southeastern desert to Life Cathedral-Fresno in the Central Valley, and Destiny Community Church-Whittier in Southern California to Crystal Cathedral-Oakland in the Bay Area, our churches have quickly adapted to the COVID 19-related guidelines in one of the strictest states in the country,” O’Neal continued. “Some, like The Vine in San Lorenzo, met outdoors while wildfires burned in the distance. Others, such as the Grove Avenue Church of God in Visalia, met under canopies in the triple-digit summer heat.”

Other churches have shifted completely to an online ministry, something virtually every Church of God in California/Nevada began doing during the initial closure of church buildings in March.

“Whether on Facebook Live or in the church parking lot, the California/Nevada Church of God has continued to connect their churches and community with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ!” O’Neal concluded.

(Source: California/Nevada State Offices)

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