SUN VALLEY, CA — After suffering multiple court defeats in their push to block Grace Community Church from holding indoor worship during the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County is trying a new approach. The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works sent the megachurch a notice intending to terminate their parking lot lease, which the church has leased from the County since 1975.
The notice gives the church until October 1 to surrender the lot.
"If Grace fails to vacate the premise as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace's personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District," the county wrote in the notice.
Jenna Ellis, attorney for the church who also serves as senior legal advisor for the Trump 2020 campaign, blasted the county in a statement.
"Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order," she said. "In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats' message to Americans is clear--if you don't bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you. The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable."
The county and megachurch have been locked in a legal battle for most of August after Grace Community Church argued the county's ban on indoor worship was unconstitutional. The county has temporarily outlawed all mass gatherings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, after the CDC and numerous health officials said such events can facilitate the spread of the virus.
According to Pastor John MacArthur, the church regularly welcomes over 7,000 guests to Sunday Service.
On August 16, Pastor MacArthur told the congregation it was "good news" that they defied health orders by not wearing masks or social distancing.
"The good news is, you're here, you're not distancing, and you're not wearing masks," he said. "And it's also good news that you're not outside, because it's very hot out there. So the Lord knew we needed to be inside and unmasked."
Read more on the dispute between Grace Community Church and the County of Los Angeles here.