When Pastor Mike McClure of San Jose’s Calvary Chapel agreed to open his church on Pentecost Sunday (May 31), he joined with more than 3,000 other churches defying California Governor Gavin Newsom’s shutdown orders. He said, “We’re called to be together. Man doesn’t have the right to close the doors. God doesn’t want us to isolate ourselves. All of us need to be in the sanctuary.”
And then he added a warning to Newsom: “I don’t care what they say. I’m never again going to close the doors, ever.”
McClure’s church first opened in 2001 and enjoys a thriving membership of more than 1,000 people. His church is one of nearly 2,000 similar evangelical congregations in an association that grew out of the Jesus Movement in Southern California in the 1960s. His church also has racked up some $220,000 in fines for violating the governor’s mandates against indoor meetings.
It’s one of more than 3,000 churches in California, with a total membership in excess of two million people, that agreed to reopen on Pentecost Sunday. The leaders chose that particular day because it celebrated the beginning of the Christian church when 3,000 converts were added in a single day, according to the Book of Acts in the New Testament. The reopening on the anniversary of Pentecost made it fitting for a “rebirth” of the church after being shut down by orders from Newsom.
Mark Brown, another California pastor, said at the time that Newsom “needs to step back and he needs to declare that the church is an essential part of what we do as Americans, as what we do as Californians.”
Instead, municipalities have stepped up attacks on a few of the larger churches, perhaps hoping to intimidate them into compliance so that the other smaller congregations will go along.