As COVID-19 continues to surge across L.A. County, a group of Christian activists is planning a “Let Us Worship” event at a Valencia church Thursday in protest of the pandemic restrictions.
Sean Feucht, a Christian singer and worship leader at Bethel Church in Redding, has traveled across the U.S. hosting “Let Us Worship” concerts.
Thousands were seen gathering, many without masks or physical distancing, for what public health officials agreed could become superspreader events, as concern for COVID-19 spread increases amid the highest surge in both cases and hospitalizations seen since the onset of the pandemic.
Now, Feucht’s concert is scheduled to come to the Higher Vision Church parking lot in Valencia on New Year’s Eve.
“This is not a Higher Vision event, but we’d love for you to join us as we worship and pray for revival in our region, state and country,” a post for the event on the church’s website reads.
James Rene, executive pastor of the church, confirmed in a livestreamed service Sunday that the event originally scheduled to occur in Azusa would now be happening at the Valencia church, calling it a “mighty move.”
“It’s going to be incredible, so you want to join us,” Rene said, adding 5,000 to 10,000 are expected to attend the event. “It’s going to be exciting.”
Rene later confirmed to The Signal that the event was set to occur in the church’s parking lot, adding the church would be putting out a statement soon about the upcoming event.
While L.A. County Department of Public Health officials were unavailable for comment as of the publication of this story, a recent statement urged L.A. County residents to avoid gathering for religious services during the holiday season, following the reversal of a countywide ban on indoor services.
“Attending an indoor service will result in transmission of COVID-19 and additional hospitalizations that the health care system cannot handle at this time,” the statement reads. “The reason is that there is (a) significant amount of community transmission throughout the county. The required modifications help to reduce the risk, but do not eliminate it.”
While specifically addressing indoor services, Public Health officials have discouraged gatherings of such sizes outdoors, as well, since the pandemic began.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials confirmed they are aware of the event and will be monitoring it, according to Deputy Natalie Arriaga, station spokeswoman.
When contacted, the city of Santa Clarita noted that the church was outside of city limits and referred comment to county officials.
“What’s always of concern to us is that whatever happens, whether it’s inside our city or outside our city, that everybody practices safety, that hopefully they wear masks, hopefully they social distance and keep everybody as safe as possible,” Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda said Wednesday.
Miranda went on to say he believes it’s important that people practice their religious beliefs, having attended church services himself over the weekend, though he urges everyone to do so safely while abiding by Public Health guidelines.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV, issued a statement to The Signal, which echoed Miranda’s sentiments: “I support religious freedom for all Los Angeles County residents — which is a constitutionally protected First Amendment right. These rights have been further upheld by recent court rulings regarding the COVID-19 health officer orders. And like the public protests that occurred during the summer and fall, I would ask that all individuals and organizations who wish to engage in religious services follow appropriate health guidelines to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
During a news briefing Monday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said approximately one person in the county is dying from COVID-19 every 10 minutes, and 10 people are testing positive each minute.
“It’s not too late to cancel your plans to gather or to travel — we can still reverse our course,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said during a live briefing Wednesday. “We have been pleading with many of our residents here in Los Angeles County to take your celebrations online and do everything virtually. It will feel different, certainly, but it’s necessary, and for the sake of the safety of our public and our people and our families.”
Locally, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital issued a “code triage” Monday due to staffing shortages and a large number of COVID-19 patient admissions.