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South Bay Pentecostal pastor praises Supreme Court ruling on church attendance

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of South Bay Pentecostal, paving the way for houses of worship to hold indoor gatherings again.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — For Sunday school teacher Timothy Geyer, finally getting to attend church with others in the community was a breath of fresh air.

“Church has been a little bit different,” he says “But church was never about the building, church’s about the community.”

In May of last year, South Bay United Pentecostal Church filed a lawsuit against the state of California alleging that Governor Newsom’s order to halt indoor worship services to slow the spread of COVID-19 was unconstitutional. On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of South Bay Pentecostal-paving the way for houses of worship to hold indoor gatherings again.

“We are going to speak for the people, we’re going to speak for all these churches that we know what to be together,” says Geyer.

In the majority opinion, Justice Gorsuch wrote: “Of course we are not scientists, but neither may we abandon the field when government officials with experts in tow seek to infringe a constitutionally protected liberty.”

During Sunday morning’s sermon to his congregation, Pastor Art Hodges praised the ruling from the Supreme Court.

“This is a giant step forward in affirming that Americans should never be forced to have to choose between obeying God or their government," says Hodges.

The ruling does allow for California to continue to restrict chanting or singing and does allow the state to cap indoor attendance at 25%. However, some people said the church was pretty full, and congregants were singing. Though Geyer says worship isn’t about the building, he’s thrilled that he’s able to spend his Sundays mornings sitting in the pews.

“When you come together into the church and you feel that worship and you pray together. You feel that liberty, you feel that freedom.” 

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