Grace Community Church in Los Angeles has won an out-of-court settlement over the Covid-19 restrictions on indoor worship.
The church, led by Pastor John McArthur, argued that County and State officials have no right to ban gathered worship.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to authorise a $400,000 payment to settle the legal battle. The State of California will also pay an additional $400,000.
The officials say the settlement was reached in the context of the US Supreme Court’s decision in February that California could not enforce a ban on indoor worship.
MacArthur said the settlement money will go to the Thomas More Society, which represented the church in this legal action.
He also confirmed that he and and his wife had contracted Covid-19 last winter. He said ‘many people’ contracted the coronavirus, adding, ‘It probably went through our church in maybe December or January.’
Speaking in response to the settlement, MacArthur said, ‘We are very grateful for our Lord’s protection and providence throughout this past year. Our commitment to the Word of God and his church has never wavered.
‘We have simply continued to stand firm, as we always have and always will. We put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the church.’
The church and pastor MacArthur were represented by lawyers from the Thomas More Society.
Special Counsel Jenna Ellis said, ‘The church is essential. Religious liberty and the Constitution won against the overbroad, arbitrary, indeterminate, and clearly unconstitutional mandates from Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County.’
Back in March last year, Grace Community Church initially stopped in-person worship services, but gatherings were re-started in July 2020.
Officials from Los Angeles County tried to stop Grace Community Church, but the church resisted by launching a legal action.
In September 2020, the church defied a court order to stop meeting, and a trial date was set for January.
But in February, the US Supreme Court ruled against California’s ban on indoor church services.
Between the end of May and the beginning of June the church’s lawyers secured two significant legal victories for other clients in California against Governor Newsom.
The State agreed to never again impose discriminatory restrictions on houses of worship in California and to pay $2.15 million in legal fees.