Pastor Greg Fairrington, leader of 3,500-members Destiny Christian Church outside of Sacramento, said he plans to continue holding in-person services despite Newsom's second shutdown announced Monday. The Golden State has had a steep surge of COVID-19 cases, now second to New York.
"If we don’t take a stand, all we’re doing is kicking the can down the road and we will be having the same conversations in three weeks, six weeks, six months, or even a year from now," Fairrington told Fox News.
"We need to collectively take a stand and say, 'We are the church, and we have a biblical and First Amendment right to worship together,'” the pastor added.
During a livestream service earlier this month, Fairrington floated a run for governor if he gets enough support, The Sacramento Bee reports.
After 11 weeks of online-only services, Fairrington reopened on May 31 along with 1,000 other congregations across the state. Days before, President Trump had declared houses of worship "essential" and stated he would override any governors that don't allow them to open.
"We believe that the local church serves a critical mental health, spiritual and community outreach role in our communities, as affirmed by our justice department and executive branch of government," the church said in a statement.
They will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines of social distancing, wearing masks, temperature checks, and sanitation "out of an abundance of care for the people of our church and surrounding community." Services will continue to be broadcast to around 40,000 viewers.
"Our mandate is to obey the Word of God, and worship is a part of what we do as a church corporately," the church's statement read. "As we pull together as a community, we choose to live in faith over fear. Just like our currency states, our founders pledged, and our churches believe: In God We Trust."
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, megachurch pastor Andy Stanley announced this week he will not resume in-person services until next year.