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In-person worship resumes at full capacity across California

The state eliminated capacity restrictions this week, allowing churches like Rock Church to fully reopen although it encouraged safety precautions.

SAN DIEGO — In-person services resumed at Rock Church’s campuses across San Diego County on Sunday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Last week, California eliminated capacity restrictions on churches and houses of worship after several Supreme Court rulings. It still encouraged them to keep other precautions in place.

“Being online is great but being with other believers in person has a different feeling to it and I think it’s great to be able to be back in person,” said Ebenezer Badger, who has attended Rock Church for the past eight years. “It’s different seeing [Pastor Miles McPherson] in person and hearing the message in person and being with other believers and I felt like the message, as good as it is online, is even better in person.” 

Rock Church had been offering services online and outdoors. It had previously scheduled to resume in-person services Sunday by reservation only. 

“Everybody had masks on. All the precautions were there, the security was there, the spraying of disinfectant was all there so, it was amazing. Like everything else in the city and country we’re getting back to normal and that’s a beautiful thing,” said Zach Brewster, who attended service Sunday. 

The changes were also welcomed by those on the stage. Before the pandemic, Pastor McPherson was known for interacting with the crowd. 

“I’ve been preaching to nobody. I’ve been recording in front of an empty room online and it’s been different not having any feedback, no one laughing at your jokes, you don’t know if you’re connecting. So, just to have people be able to feedback and respond to people has been a huge difference for a communicator that thrives on feedback," said McPherson after his first in-person service. 

Even though all 3,400 seats at Rock Church were available Sunday, only about 3,128 were taken between both services. There were also fewer services than before the pandemic as members continue to watch online.  

They hope more people will feel comfortable returning in-person as coronavirus cases continue dropping. 

“There’s only so much you can accomplish with Zoom. You can’t maintain community with Zoom as well as being together,” said McPherson. “God is going to have to get people back. We’ll reach out to them, we’ll continue to have service online because obviously, it’s a global reach, but the people in San Diego, we’re going to pray they come back and respond to us reaching out to them.”

WATCH: Places of worship can be at full capacity