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'Church Is Essential': Worshippers Take Communion Despite Warnings Not To Gather

THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) -- A church in the town of Newbury Park opened its doors Sunday for members to take communion.

Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks resigned from his position as a city councilman before making the controversial decision to welcome worshippers inside.

He said the service will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to practice physical distancing, but it will still be in violation of the state and county orders that categorizes churches as non-essential.

"The church is essential. It's not to be considered non-essential and this is critical to us as Christians," Pastor McCoy said. "I don't want to put anyone in danger, never have. I am completely abiding by the CDC standards."

Outside the church, ushers stayed six feet from worshippers and made sure they also maintained that distance from each other. Inside, instead of 400 chairs, there were just ten.

The communion itself was individually wrapped for people to take themselves.

"It's kind of up to the individual as to what's essential in their lives," said church member Jim Van Wyck. "In terms of our faith and this church, it's probably more essential than anything."

Others were upset that the church was actually going through with communion despite guidelines to stay at home as much as possible as coronavirus cases continue to rise locally and globally.

"I think it's just really dangerous," said Jennifer Morrison. "I'm a Christian myself so I understand the desire to want to worship together but I just think it's putting lives at risk unnecessarily."

Officials from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office came by before the service started, making sure the social distancing order was being honored, saying they had no intention to take any enforcement action.

Pastor McCoy says as long as law enforcement is okay with what the church is doing and they're practicing social distancing, he'll consider offering another communion in the coming weeks.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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