Description: Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, tried to shut down all the churches in California using the Corona virus as an excuse. Today, Pastor Brenda Wood explains why she broke the law in order to keep her church open.
Brenda Wood pastors Word of Life Church in Riverside, California. When the Corona virus hit, she conducted parking lot services in front of her church but the governor of California made a law saying all church services are illegal while also keeping liquor stores and abortion clinics open. She filed a class action lawsuit with Civil Liberties against Gavin Newsom, the governor of California. The lawsuit is currently in front of the 9th Circuit Court. Even though it is illegal, her church continues to meet while also following all the CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid 19.
Brenda Wood answers questions like:
What should a church do when the government declares having church is illegal?
Why the church is desperately needed, especially during times of national emergency.
What health guidelines and social distancing rules should a church follow?
Why the Gospel cannot and will not be stopped.
Key Quote: “Our founding fathers founded this country because of religious persecution and it’s rearing its ugly head again, and we have to take a stand and stand up for liberty.” – Pastor Brenda Wood
Daniel King (00:00):
Wonderful. We are here with Brenda Wood from Word of Life in Riverside, California, and she has been breaking the law by having church services in her church during COVID the governor of California said that they weren’t allowed to have any church services. And she’s actually joined a class action lawsuit, suing the state of California to force them to have their religious rights that are guaranteed by our constitution. Pastor Brenda, thank you for being on the podcast.
Pastor Brenda Wood (00:40):
Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.
Daniel King (00:42):
Tell me what has been happening at your church.
Pastor Brenda Wood (00:47):
It’s kind of crazy. We never thought something like this could happen, not in the United States of America. And so when the COVID pandemic came down in the beginning, of course, we listened to the president and we wanted to be good citizens. But after that I started having a church in the parking lot of, and in people just drove up, stayed in their vehicles, wore mask and no one was getting in or out. We didn’t even open our restrooms. However,
Daniel King (01:17):
So they were in their cars. Windows rolled up, they had their mass sun. Yes. And what happened when the government found out that you were meeting in your parking lot though?
Pastor Brenda Wood (01:28):
Well, the night before Palm Sunday, and when I say the night, I’m talking about 8:00 PM the night before the Riverside County health director issued an order that there would be no church drive in services. And so I felt that was a violation of the first amendment and our, you know, our constitutional rights. And I was approached by civil liberties lawyers that week and asked me if I would join a class action lawsuit against the state of California. And I said, yes.
Daniel King (01:57):
Okay. So the first amendment guarantees us freedom of religion in this nation, freedom to practice our religion, freedom to have church. And the government told you, you weren’t allowed to have it
Pastor Brenda Wood (02:11):
Well, and that’s right. And you have to kind of balance it out. There was a liquor store we’re in a strip mall, there’s a liquor store. Next door. People were coming and going and congregating in the parking lot, not wearing mask. And yet they’re really coming down hard on church churches in the state of California. And so there’s no balance. And I really do believe that this is a direct attack against the church to keep the church close, but we know that church is essential and that people need to hear the word of God, especially during a national state emergency.
Daniel King (02:45):
And so what is the status of the court case? Right.
Pastor Brenda Wood (02:49):
Well, right now it’s in the ninth circuit court and it’s been sitting there for a while. Of course we’re believing for great things. And I I’m praying that it goes all the way. I think it’s I think it’s just vital that we declare the church essential in the United States of America.
Daniel King (03:07):
And so you’ve actually decided to go against this law into, continue to meet. Tell me about that.
Pastor Brenda Wood (03:15):
We met outside for a while. Then the second Sunday in June we started meeting inside and again, we go by all the CDC guidelines, we take check temperatures and all of that. And so I just believe that if you can meet at schools, if you can meet at Costco, if you can meet, you know, in, in grocery stores, you can certainly meet at church.
Daniel King (03:40):
And so in your church services, are you singing songs? Oh yeah, because I heard that in some churches, they, they, they said you’re not allowed to sing because you could catch COVID if you sing,
Pastor Brenda Wood (03:52):
It’s not some churches, it’s all churches in California, so, Oh yeah. But we’re still singing. Are you praying for people? Oh yeah. Are you preaching from the pulpit? Oh yeah. So we’re going forward where, you know, the gospel will not be stopped. And that is really the issue of all of this is they’re trying to stop the gospel and the gospel is not going to be stopped. Now. It’s great to go online. We all have online services and we love that. But you know, a Hebrew says do not forsake assembling yourselves together. That verse has become so alive to me during this crisis, how important it is for the body of believers to come together. We need to see the glory of God in each other. It brings us closer to each other and to God.
Daniel King (04:38):
Amen. That’s tremendous. And so in your services, have you been seeing God move during this time? How have you been reaching out to people?
Pastor Brenda Wood (04:47):
Absolutely. you know, the residual effects of COVID-19 have been suicide has gone up. Child abuse has gone up, domestic violence has gone up. And so these are residual effects
Daniel King (04:59):
And even economic conditions, people are struggling economically because of all of the restrictions
Pastor Brenda Wood (05:05):
They are struggling. And, you know, the poverty level of course has gone up. And so people are hurting and they need some answers. They need people that are ready and willing to pray for them. And so that’s what we’ve been focusing on, hurting people and just reaching out as people come in, we’ve got a lot of people that have come from other churches, their churches close, and just spend time talking and praying with them and, and, and, and encouraging them. And, and so there’s just you know, I’ve had people call me on the verge of suicide and I pray with them and talk with them. And you know, I think that’s where we need to all pull together and understand that the church must stay open.
Daniel King (05:46):
Have you faced any criticism for staying open either in social media or the media? Tell me about that. Oh yeah. I got some hate mail in the very beginning. So what did the hate mail say? They said, I hope you all die
Pastor Brenda Wood (05:58):
To that effect. These were from Christians. So I quote unquote, Christians.
Daniel King (06:03):
We love you so much. Why don’t you go on to heaven right now?
Pastor Brenda Wood (06:06):
Exactly. Pretty much. But you know you know, when you’re doing, you know, when you’re doing the right thing and I gotta tell you, this lawsuit is not a frivolous decision for me, my husband and I, we took three hours and prayed and sought the Lord and ask God, is this the course that you want us to take? And I just believe with all my heart that it is
Daniel King (06:25):
Well, the ninth circuit tends to often vote liberal. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if the ninth circuit might come up with a reason why you’re not allowed to have church. But if that happens, will you take this to the Supreme court?
Pastor Brenda Wood (06:42):
Absolutely. We’ll go all the way. I’m very happy with my civil liberties lawyers and they’re very courageous people and they love the constitution and I love the constitution. And that is what we’re fighting
Daniel King (06:56):
Now. What do you think the church should do if the Supreme court or the government ever tells us, you can, you have to stop having church? What do you think the church should do?
Pastor Brenda Wood (07:06):
Well in that case, I think we might be a lot like China and have an underground church, but church can not be stopped
Daniel King (07:14):
That they could be coming in America where we would face persecution. But I think even in the midst of persecution, even when people try to stop the gospel, the gospel continues even in closed nations, places where we’re, there are laws against being Christian, Jesus still touches people’s lives. And no matter what the government does, you cannot stop a higher power of what God is going to do.
Pastor Brenda Wood (07:43):
Amen. I’m in and the gospel will not be stopped. And that’s, you know, that’s the cracks of all of this that we’re going to preach the gospel. We’re going to preach the word we’re going to go forward and do what God has called us to do. And I am proud of the church. This is the church’s greatest hour, in my opinion, and the churches stepping up and stepping in, and we’re going to let our light shine and we’re going to go forth.
Daniel King (08:06):
What advice would you give to other pastors who are trying to decide whether they should open church or stay closed?
Pastor Brenda Wood (08:12):
Well, first of all, you have to pray and do what the Holy spirit is telling you. I’m not I’m not judging anybody for staying close. I’m not judging anybody for staying open, but I know what the Lord told me. And he spoke to me. And so I’m going to stand by that and my convictions, and this is truly a, about our freedom. And, you know, our founding fathers founded this country because of religious persecution. And so, you know, it’s rearing its ugly head again, and we have to take a stand and we have to stand for freedom and stand for the right to meet together.
Daniel King (08:51):
Pastor Brenda, I admire you as a woman of God. You are a woman of great faith. You are a woman full of strength. And so thank you for taking a stand for what’s right here in America. Thank you for being on the pipe.
Speaker 3 (09:06):
Well, thank you. Thank you so much. Love you guys.