California churches hold beach services, worship indoors in defiance of state ban

'We love Jesus and we want to worship and nothing's going to stop us from doing that' a mom of three says

Thousands of Christians across California continue to sing and hold worship services in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus lockdown guidelines.

On Sunday, more than 5,000 showed up on the beach in San Diego for a "Let Us Worship" event put on by worship leader Sean Feucht and his nonprofit, Hold the Line, where he baptized his own son, Ezra.

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"It's just the most raw, organic, gritty gospel," Feucht told Fox News. "It's been very eclectic, very diverse in terms of people praying and singing. People got healed, saved, and delivered."

Sean Feucht, founder of Hold the Line, leads worship at the beach in San Diego, Calif. Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Sean Feucht, founder of Hold the Line, leads worship at the beach in San Diego, Calif. Sunday, July 26, 2020. (Photographer: Brad Bichsel)

Feucht has been traveling to cities across California leading “Let Us Worship” protests with local pastors and leaders after Newsom announced he was banning singing in churches at the beginning of July and has put further restrictions on indoor venues as the state has moved to No. 1 in terms of coronavirus cases.

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Hundreds showed up Saturday to the Fresno City Hall, where they worshipped and prayed, along with baptisms in the City Hall fountain.

Around 5,000 people gathered at the "Let Us Worship" event on a San Diego, Calif. beach Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Around 5,000 people gathered at the "Let Us Worship" event on a San Diego, Calif. beach Sunday, July 26, 2020. (Courtesy of Whitney Witt)

"I believe in Jesus Christ and the freedom to worship and that's why we're here," Vanessa Kelly, a Reedley resident and mother of three, told the Fresno Bee. "We love Jesus and we want to worship and nothing's going to stop us from doing that."

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On Friday in Bakersfield, Republican Mayor Karen Goh and the state's Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, also a Republican, opened up with prayer at a park in the center of the city.

"Sean, welcome to Bakersfield...the city of righteousness, where our founder, Col. Thomas Baker, said, 'This is God's country,' and so that's been the declaration over the city of Bakersfield and we continue to declare that this is God' country. This is a city of righteousness," Goh told Feucht before the event began. "We are excited to be able to worship together."

The worship leader has protested through worship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and other locations.

"The venues have been really cool. Every night has been different but amazing," Feucht said.

Sean Feucht baptizes his son, Ezra, at the beach.

Sean Feucht baptizes his son, Ezra, at the beach. (Courtesy of Whitney Witt)

But while Feucht has gathered with pastors and churches outside, many faith leaders are choosing to hold services inside in defiance of Newsom.

Pastor and author John MacArthur held packed services at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, outside of Los Angeles, Sunday.

“We understand that the world does not understand the importance of the church,” MacArthur, who has led the congregation for 50 years, explained. “The world does not understand that it is not only essential, but it is the only hope for eternal life for doomed sinners.”

A network of California churches led by Pastor Che Ahn filed a lawsuit against Newsom's July 1 ban on singing in houses of worship to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Feucht and his organization, Hold the Line, are headed to Portland, August 8, to change the narrative after weeks of protests and riots.

"Where the world has only seen destruction and violence, we want to change the narrative and show that the church is rising up to change the storyline in our cities," Feucht explained. "We're not just going to watch our cities be burned and pillaged. We're coming to bring hope and peace to the violence."