I was going to extend this two-part series to three, adding on an upbeat explanation that when counties go after the Church the government is destined to fail. Reference to Church with an upper case C refers to the worldwide church, the universal, invisible body of Christ instead of meaning one particular local congregation.
Planned for the next post to give a small illustration expanding out to wider examples in history and then going back to New Testament illustrations.
Then a news report yesterday about petty retaliation from Los Angeles County interrupted, showing I need a different post as the next discussion.
So, for your daily dose of shake-my-head amazement, consider…
8/31/20 – Disrn – LA County evicts John MacArthur’s Grace Church from parking lot lease held since 1975 – By now a few other news sources are covering the story, but as of this morning I did not find any major news organization that considered it important enough to have an article.
First, some background.
Many churches in Southern California do not have enough land to provide parking for all of their worshipers. Lots of churches have bought residential property adjacent to the church, bulldozing the house, and paving the land in order to have extra parking.
Lots of churches rent land from water districts, putting a parking lot on the space. This works out well for everyone because water districts don’t want permanent facilities over their major water lines and can’t generate any revenue from the property otherwise, so they rent land out to a nearby church.
Grace Community Church is in this place. There is a large parcel of land owned by the county across the street from their facility and only a couple minute walk away from the sanctuary. Since 1975 the church has rented this land. They built a large parking lot on the triangular plot.
From looking a satellite map of the neighborhood the leased land is perhaps half the size of the rather large campus where the church is located. Based on eyeballing the area, that parking lot provides perhaps twice or three times as much parking as is currently on the Grace Community Church campus.
There is another large parking lot several blocks west of the campus, which I assume is also parking.
This triangular plot of land leased from the county looks like it is something in the range of 60% of their available parking.
If you want to get a visual, you can look up the church on a map application – their address is 13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, CA.
As previously mentioned in the two previous posts of this series, the church is in court resisting efforts by the county to shut down in-person worship service.
Now for the most recent actions by the county…
In a letter dated 8/28/20 (last Friday), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works gave the church 30 days notice to terminate the rental agreement. As already mentioned, the lease has been in place since 1975.
You can read the letter for yourself here. Effective date is October 1, 2020. On that date all personal property remaining on the land will be claimed by the county. All of the improvements will become property of the county at the county’s option.
Go back to that map view of the church you looked at a few minutes ago. Look for other big parking lots.
I see a small school parking lot about a mile south west, two school parking lots about 2 miles east and a good size shopping center another mile east. I’ll make a very easy guess those school parking lots will amazingly not be available for rent on Sunday morning. Even if the shopping center were available on Sunday morning, using that lot would require a shuttle run of about 3 miles. That would be difficult and expensive to do for a few thousand people.
What the county has done is remove parking for something in the range of 30% or 40% or 50% of the people who attend the church. Essentially the county has moved to forcibly close the church, starting 10/4/20.
Does this look like retaliation to you?
After the county has lost several rounds in court, this sure does look like retaliation to me.
After reading background you are reading now, previous news reports on litigation, and the county’s termination letter, is there anyone that does not consider this to be retaliation by the county?
Ponder the implications please.
Any church in Los Angeles County who dares to stand up to the county is now at risk of losing any parking that is leased from the county.
Oh, another super-easy prediction – I’ll guess GCC will gladly spend a huge amount of money suing the county for unconstitutional retaliation and suppression of religious freedom. Discovery will not be pleasant for the county. What are your guesses on how soon we will hear about injunctions being issued?