Kearny Mesa Church Holds Another Non-Compliant Worship Service

Since being served with a cease and desist order following an illegal indoor worship service, the church has held two outdoor services with little social distancing or mask wearing

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A Kearny Mesa church under scrutiny for failing to comply with social distancing and face covering mandates held yet another non-compliant service Wednesday night.

NBC 7 reached out to San Diego County for comment after a camera crew spotted an outdoor service at Awaken Church on Balboa Avenue with little adherence to social distancing and face covering mandates.

“It is more than clear in our order that the church is responsible for gaining total compliance from their parishioners. It is also clear they have not succeeded again this week," a statement from the county said.

Wednesday night's service was the third out-of-compliance gathering at the church in three weeks.

The first was during an indoor worship service held in mid-July. Footage from that service also showed little social distancing or mask wearing.

In response to the video, which aired on NBC 7 July 17, the county served Awaken Church with an order to cease and desist indoor services, and to hold only outdoor services that met the standards laid out in the Public Health Order.

County public health officer sends notices to three churches, advising them to move services outdoors, reports NBC 7's Artie Ojeda.

The following week, the church held a worship service that included live on-stage music. Dozens gathered, most without wearing masks or social distancing.

It is unclear of the county made contact with the church between the cease and desist order that followed the indoor service and Wednesday night's statement in response to the second non-compliant outdoor service.

In a message posted to Awaken Church’s Facebook page on July 17, Pastor Jurgen Matthesius bemoaned Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order “dictating and regulating how worship can be conducted.” The pastor noted the critical role of the church in aiding residents who are managing the physical, emotional and psychological toll brought on by the pandemic.

“The church is a place that provides healing, relief and hope from these situations,” Jurgen wrote in the post.

Jurgen said the church will go above and beyond to make sure it is following regulations -- to an extent.

“However, there’s an expiration date on how long a church can function online and still meet all the aspects of the health, the physical and emotional and spiritual needs of our people,” Jurgen added in the post.

Jurgen also said that restrictions have become much worse than the virus itself, downplaying the ratio of deaths to population in San Diego County.

“While every death is a tragedy, the impact of these shutdowns extends far beyond the disease itself,” Jurgen wrote.

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