SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A California church that had been fined more than $100K for holding indoor church services in violation of county COVID regulations moved services back outside on Sunday as members of the congregation sat in their cars and listened on their radios, honking their amens.
Jack Trieber of North Valley Church of Santa Ana told those in attendance that County officials had planned to file suit against the church to seek an injunction against the indoor meetings but dropped the legal challenge as Trieber agreed to move services outside.
“I don’t know how long we’ll be out here,” he said. “If I’m out here in October still preaching, if I’m out here at Thankgiving preaching, if I’m out here at Christmas and — unusual in California — snows, I’m going to be at this spot in my place doing what God commanded me to do just I do like inside that building.”
Trieber advised that the church also dropped its lawsuit against the county, and asked the congregation to pray for those leading North Valley Church, as well as those in authority on both county and state levels.
He proceed to deliver a message entitled “The Battle Is the Lord’s,” outlining that God often intervened in the affairs of men throughout biblical history.
“Can we let God fight this present battle?” Trieber asked, outlining that supporters were prepared to inundate county officials with emails and a legislator offered him a phone call from President Trump, but he decided not to fight in that manner. “We’re going to fight this by giving it to God … [and] we are going to continue to fight this battle in prayer.”
As previously reported, Trieber released a video statement on Aug. 24 explaining that the church had been fined $10K for holding a morning and evening service indoors and for also including singing during those gatherings.
County officials taped a multiple-page “cease and desist” order to the door, outlining that Trieber was in willful violation of the prohibition on indoor gatherings, as well as singing.
Trieber held his ground out of the belief that it is not the government’s jurisdiction to make laws against the Church.
Therefore, officials continued to issue fines, and on Sept. 1., Trieber released a second video outlining that fines now stood at $52K.
The County documents cited “unlawful indoor gathering, failing to comply with required social distancing practices, not requiring congregants or church attendees to face coverings while attending, performing or speaking at indoor worship services; and permitting congregants or church service attendees to sing during services.” Trieber contends that the church had indeed been social distancing.
“This has to stop. This has to cease,” Trieber declared in the video. “You have given us, government, cease and desist [orders]. I’m asking you on this day [to] cease and desist. This is harassment to do this to a church.”
Attorneys for Santa Clara County had prepared documents last week to seek a court injunction against North Valley Church, but as Trieber agreed to hold meetings outside, the county held back.
“The reality that churches and other religious institutions across our county were successfully holding outdoor services, drive-in services, remote services — and have been — just completely undermines the notion that they needed to have an indoor gathering and create that huge risk of danger,” attorney James Williams told The Mercury News.
He advised the outlet that the county does not plan to waive the fines, which now stand at $112,750.
During Sunday’s service, Trieber recited the lyrics to the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in urging the church to pray: “Have we trials and temptations?/Is there trouble anywhere?/We should never be discouraged/Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
The church had initially complied with orders not to hold indoor church services but resumed after the coronavirus did not appear to be as severe of a threat in Santa Clara County as expected.