Mega Church Conference Has Been Cancelled After County Threatened Legal Actions

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley announced Friday (Feb. 12) it would postpone an annual three-day ministry conference after Los Angeles County public health officials expressed concerns about its...

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley announced Friday (Feb. 12) it would postpone an annual three-day ministry conference after Los Angeles County public health officials expressed concerns about its potential to spread COVID-19.

The Shepherds’ Conference, scheduled for March 3-5, had scheduled more than 30 speakers to address audiences of hundreds of pastors and academics from Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington state. The Rev. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, said in a promotional video that the conference would be “polemical” and “passionate” as “we endeavor to reclaim true evangelicalism.”

But in Friday posts on Facebook and Twitter, the church said that California and L.A. County threatened action to stop the event, “we have decided that the most prudent course of action at this time is to postpone the Shepherds’ Conference.”

Although a Supreme Court ruling lifted a ban on indoor worship in California, county health officials said they had determined that the Shepherds’ Conference didn’t qualify as worship service.

A conference hosted by a church or anyone else is prohibited, county officials said in a statement provided to Religion News Service.

“A gathering of thousands of people from around the country and the world can turn into a superspreading event and can be deadly,” the statement read.

The church seemed to allude to the Supreme Court decision in its Facebook announcement. “We will be deposing the key health officers and county officials and requiring them to answer for their oppressive actions under oath,” its post said, “and requesting all documents and information supporting their arbitrary attempts to restrict our religious liberty as a church.”

The Los Angeles Times, in a story about the conference Friday, reported that two men from Washington, including a 90-year-old pastor, died of complications from COVID-19 a few weeks after attending last year’s Shepherds’ Conference. It’s unknown if it was connected to the conference.

In its statement, the church said its “leadership remains firmly committed to the truth that Christ is the head of the Church.”

“… we will not yield to government’s infringement upon the biblical command to worship and gather together,” the church said. “We intend to steadfastly defend this truth and obtain appropriate constitutional and legal protections and further relief from the Court.”

The church has been embroiled in a legal court battle with the county as MacArthur has openly defied public health restrictions during the pandemic. Since July 2020, MacArthur has held in-person services with congregants singing and sitting next to each other without masks.

On July 24, MacArthur and the church’s elders issued a statement entitled “Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open.”

The statement said Grace Community Church has always stood steadfast on biblical principles. It claims that while the government is charged with protecting civic order and well-being, “God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church.”


ANNOUNCEMENT: In light of our ongoing litigation and recent threats from the County of Los Angeles and the State of…

Posted by Grace Community Church on Friday, February 12, 2021

There were the scheduled speakers for 2021:

John MacArthur

Grace Community Church

Steven Lawson

OnePassion Ministries

H.B. Charles Jr.

Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church

Abner Chou

John F. MacArthur Endowed Fellow
The Master’s University

Austin Duncan

Grace Community Church

Phil Johnson

Executive Director
Grace to You

Nathan Busenitz

Dean of Faculty and Professor of Theology
The Master’s Seminary

Michael Riccardi

Grace Community Church

Paul Twiss

Instructor of Bible Exposition
The Master’s Seminary

Brian Biedebach

Grace Community Church

Hohn Cho

Grace Community Church

Luis Contreras

Seminario Bíblico Palabra de Gracia

James Dolezal

Professor of Theology
School of Divinity at Cairn University

Igor Gerdov

Good News Church

Josiah Grauman

Dean of Spanish Education
The Master’s Seminary

Alexander Gurtaev

New Testament Chair
Samara Center for Biblical Training

Chris Hamilton

Grace Community Church

Carl Hargrove

Professor of Pastoral Ministries
The Master’s Seminary

Brad Klassen

Director of Th.M. Studies
The Master’s Seminary

Alexey Kolomiytsev

Word of Grace Bible Church

Jay Lennington

Junior High Ministry Pastor
Grace Community Church

Roger Mason

Vice President

Alex Montoya

Senior Pastor
First Fundamental Bible Church

Josh Petras

High School Ministry Pastor
Grace Community Church

Todd Sorrell

Biblical Counselor

Henry Tolopilo

Spanish Ministry Pastor
Grace Community Church

Michael Vlach

Professor of Theology
The Master’s Seminary

Harry Walls

Campus Pastor
The Master’s University

Paul Washer

HeartCry Missionary Society

Joseph Zhakevich

Professor of Old Testament
The Master’s Seminary

Mark Zhakevich

Professor of Bible Exposition
The Master’s Seminary

Michael Bohr

Guest Musician
Grace Community Church

John Martin

Guest Musician
Grace Community Church

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