San Diego church hopes to reopen following LA County reversal


SAN DIEGO — Leaders at some San Diego churches are hoping to worship indoors again after Los Angeles County health officials reversed their ban on indoor religious gatherings.

The reversal came after the Supreme Court sided with a Southern California church Saturday, ruling indoor services are allowed as long as worshippers follow certain guidelines. That includes wearing face coverings at all times and maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet between people of different households.

“I don’t think they want L.A. County to get ahead of them. Come on San Diego, step it up,” Bishop Arthur Hodges said. “Let’s adopt these guidelines. These are safe guidelines but they allow us to function and operate.”

Hodges preaches at South Bay Pentecostal Church. He believes the reversal in Los Angeles is a sign of hope that county leaders could make a similar move locally. It’s something he’s been fighting for since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We never asked for a bypass of safety protocols. We have always practiced and honored the CDC protocols,” Hodges said. “We simply ask, don’t impose more on churches than are imposed on any other secular activity.”

Not all churches in San Diego are following guidelines put in place to keep people safe from the coronavirus. Awaken Church defied health orders and continued to hold services indoors after county health officials warned of a coronavirus outbreak at the church. Video showed staff and worshippers without masks the day after the outbreak was made public.

Pastor Travis Gibson from The Rock Church in Point Loma said Sunday that their church isn’t in a hurry to bring the congregation back indoors.

“Just because we can, may not mean that we will, or that the people want to get in the building,” Gibson said. “So we’re probably going to go slow.”

He said The Rock will continue holding services online and outdoors while church leaders see how things go in Los Angeles.

“Watch the other areas that have churches our size and see how their communities respond. Our position has been, let’s not act too quickly so that we have to go backwards just because we were early adopters,” Gibson said.

San Diego saw the second-highest number of new COVID-19 cases ever recorded county-wide on Sunday. On Saturday, 27 new deaths were reported.

FOX 5 asked the county about the reversal in Los Angeles. A spokesperson said they don’t think indoor church services are appropriate at this time, and that indoor worship is not allowed under the current stay-at-home order.

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