John MacArthur Preaches at Grace Community Church
Pastor John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, July 26, 2020. Video screengrab via Vimeo/Grace Community Church

Members of John MacArthur’s Church Say They’re Being Pressured Not to Report New COVID Outbreak

By Julie Roys

John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC), which has defied county orders banning indoor worship, appears to be having an outbreak of COVID-19 among its leadership and members.

But a GCC leader who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job says staff and members are being pressured not to report new COVID cases to the health department for fear of being shut down.

Under a county health order, places of worship must report to public health when at least three coronavirus cases are identified among church staff or congregation within a span of 14 days.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told The Roys Report, “No additional outbreaks have been reported by Grace Community Church” since an outbreak at the church in October. (That outbreak was investigated and closed in November after no further cases were found among employees for 14 days.)

But the GCC  leader, whose identity I’ve confirmed, said he knows of staff at GCC who recently contracted COVID, as well as two GCC members who are professors at The Master’s University where MacArthur is chancellor emeritus. He added that multiple members of the Filipino ministry have tested positive for COVID, including a leader of the Filipino ministry, who’s been hospitalized.

The leader said he and his wife also have COVID and he is very sick. Several times during our interview, he had to stop because of coughing fits and to catch his breath.

Similarly, a blogger on Medium who goes by the pen name, “Modern Day Zorro,” posted last night that seven staff and elders who attended a Christmas party at GCC have COVID and are exhibiting symptoms. Zorro said that at the party, “lunch was served and maskless elderly and Elders sat should to shoulder, hugged and shook hands.”

I asked the GCC leader about Zorro’s account and he confirmed that GCC had a Christmas party on December 8. But he added: “John (MacArthur) will NEVER admit that number. I have no doubt that it is true, but any church leader who publicly affirms that will be looking for a new job!”

Facebook Posts Confirm Outbreak

Numerous posts this past week to a private Facebook group named after GCC’s GraceLife fellowship group confirmed the outbreak at the church.

One post stated that “a lot” of members of GCC’s Filipino Outreach Ministry “have been testing CoVid+.” The post added that one of those sickened is a leader of the Filipino Outreach, who’s been hospitalized.

The post said two other members of the Filipino ministry have pneumonia and one of them has been admitted to the hospital, as well.

Below is a screenshot of the post, which was shared with The Roys Report. (It has been blurred to protect the privacy of those with COVID.)

 

Several other Facebook posts by leaders of GraceLife this week mentioned that members of the group have COVID or COVID-like symptoms.

Staff pastor Mike Riccardi, who leads GraceLife with Pastor Phil Johnson, posted earlier this week that he had received a report that a member of the group had been rushed to the hospital with pneumonia and a “very low” oxygen level. 

Grace Community Church

 

Also this week, Ron Modugno, who’s “shepherd” of GraceLife’s Santa Clarita Study, posted that GraceLife had decided to cancel its banquet that was scheduled for Saturday, December 19.

In response to Modugno’s post, one member of the group said she wouldn’t have been able to come because she has COVID. Another group member responded that she knew a group member with the “China Virus” as well.

Grace Community Church

 

Members of GCC also posted about their COVID diagnoses on their personal Facebook pages.

On Wednesday, Dr. William Varner, a professor of biblical studies at The Master’s University, posted that he has COVID. Varner also is pastor of a fellowship group at GCC called Sojourners.

Varner Grace

On Friday, GCC member Sarah Duckett, announced that her 14-year-old son has COVID.

Sarah Duckett

I private messaged Duckett and she said that her son had attended the evening service at GCC last Sunday (Dec. 13) but wore a mask the whole time. Duckett said the rest of the family attended the service outdoors and did not enter the building.

In response to Duckett’s post, a GCC member whose husband is a neighborhood outreach leader at GCC, commented that her whole family of eight was just getting over COVID.

Grace Community Church

 

I reached out to the woman for more details, but she did not respond.

I also reached out to several GCC pastors for comment about the outbreak at the church, including GraceLife Pastors Mike Riccardi and Phil Johnson, but they did not respond either.

A Culture of Intimidation

I spoke with multiple members of Grace Community Church this week who said they were scared of speaking out about the outbreak for fear of retribution. Some said they feared losing their jobs. Others said they feared being ostracized and losing their community.

GCC is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with L.A. County for defying COVID regulations. And MacArthur has publicly urged other pastors to open their churches and Christians to sign a petition aimed at deeming the church “essential.”   

The GCC leader who wished to remain anonymous said MacArthur has downplayed the seriousness of COVID throughout the pandemic and often refers to COVID as simply “the flu.”

The leader said on GCC’s campus almost no one wears a mask. And in the service and fellowship groups, people are packed close together.

He added that he felt pressured by church leaders to attend in-person events at the church and now is “paying the price” for complying.

In a question and answer session at the church two weeks ago, MacArthur expressed doubt that COVID is as contagious as is being reported. He stated: “We’ve been meeting together like this—and for months and months and months. And the health department was here a couple of weeks ago to say, there’s no outbreak at Grace Church. How is that possible if what they say is so? We are a microcosm of the world.”

MacArthur added, “I wanted to encourage you that, spiritually speaking, this is the best place you could be.” He also expressed doubt in COVID vaccines, saying “it’s all about money” and about “two massive corporations becoming more wealthy than you can even comprehend.”

L.A. County announced yesterday that it is changing its health order to allow indoor services “with mandatory physical distancing and face coverings over both the nose and mouth that must be worn at all times while on site.” The change was made to reflect recent Supreme Court rulings against state efforts to restrict indoor worship due to the coronavirus.

This morning at 8:30 a.m., the fellowship groups are scheduled to meet in-person at GCC, including GraceLife and Sojourners. GCC is also planning in-person services today for its congregation of about 7,000. 

“People have been put at risk. People endangered,” the GCC leader said. “And I pray it doesn’t turn into a huge outbreak that (MacArthur) is ultimately responsible for because he’s not taking the steps to control it.”

Editor’s Note: The information about MacArthur’s comments two weeks ago was added after this article was initially published.

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discussion

113 thoughts on “Members of John MacArthur’s Church Say They’re Being Pressured Not to Report New COVID Outbreak”

  1. This is just nuts! It is literally nuts to go back and forth over whether or not it is a pandemic. Oregon is reporting excess deaths due to Covid. The CDC is reporting excess deaths. This is not a conspiracy,. Wear a mask! Honestly, I think if Trump wore a mask from the beginning, California had a Republican governor, and Fox News wasn’t playing y’all like a fiddle, that there would not be this crazy-level of conspiracy theorists who should know better. At heart I think it is entirely political. Let’s be people of truth and not crazies.

      1. Yes! This is the truth that needs to be made known universally instead of the nonsense that there are no longer any pneumonia or flu deaths, but only covid deaths. That deception is unbelievably, insanely, ridiculous.

      2. Mike,
        How did you “project” the deaths? Oregon had 32,330 at the end of Oct, 2020 and that would give 38,796 by the end of Dec. Better to just wait and see if 2020 had more deaths than other years.

        1. Mike….. what you did wrong.

          You went to the OHA site and took their year-to-date as if is was December 1st. It says clearly that it is through October….not November!!! You are missing a whole month.

          Indeed Oregon’s death number will be up, not down as you stated. Whether that is enough to account for the covid claims is a question, but still, your math is off.

          You cannot make coherent arguments that way.

  2. How is accusing the brethren anything to do with ‘refining the church’? Which authority gave Mrs. Roys the authority to expose the sins of the church? I hope she comes to understand soon that when the devil accuses the Christians, most of the stuff he states is true.The Lord intercedes for us day and night whereas the devil accuses the Christians day and night – I wonder with whom does Mrs. Roys fellowship?

    Of course, she asks for donations in this website while ‘refining’ the church – that itself proves whom she is actually serving. I genuinely hope she will repent of this evil of reporting on the sins of the church. ‘Love covers a multitude of sins..’

    1. I am not sure I agree with you that Julie Roys is an accuser or is in fellowship with the evil one. I believe this site holds the church accountable. A lot of articles on this site are very disturbing and you know this is only the tip of the iceberg. Members of the body should not be ignorant to the abuses, fraud, etc. that is taking place in the church and make excuses such as “love covers a multitude of sins”. While we can quote this scripture, those who hold positions of leadership and influence in the church need to be held accountable when abuse and fraud are evident and I think the should be held more accountable than the secular world. We can wait for judgment day for God to make things right, but we cant turn a blind eye to abuse, fraud, etc. today especially when we have the ability to act.

      With that said, I’m not sure about the need for this article at this time. There isn’t sufficient evidence for an outsider of the Grace Fellowship to know if it’s true. I can speculate and guess it may be true, but no evidence as of yet. If there’s an outbreak and if the leadership are being pressured to not advise to the local health board to report known cases, not by word whether verbal or written, but by attitude and social pressure then this should be exposed.

      The first thing we to do as the body is pray for mercy and repent. I pray for the church that God will hold it’s leaders accountable and that He will remove the wolves and false prophets that cause the world to blaspheme the precious name of Jesus and his body. God will sanctify His church.

      1. The apostles or prophets or those in whom the Lord puts in authority are the only ones who can do this work – not a journalist who earns money through this ‘exposure ministry’. The Lord is more than able to purify His church (Read Revelation 2 and 3) and we should question wrong teachings and doctrines. But this ‘business’ of finding fault and reporting on alleged wrong doings is a serious issue that a Christian should not be supporting. A reputation thus shattered by these ignorant journalists who are serving only themselves brings dishonor to godly people – this is wickedness and hopefully Mrs. Roys would stop this before she gets exposed for the evil she is doing (although hopefully in ignorance).

        ‘Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.’ – 1 Cor 4.

        The Lord will keep the leaders who are doing wrong accountable and he may use worldly journalists to do that but where does it ever speak in scriptures that we as Christians should keep the leaders accountable? This is not scriptural and comes from a democratic mindset, which is good for worldly affairs but the kingdom of our Lord is not a democracy.

        1. God can and does use whomever or whatever He wants to hold people accountable. He used Balams donkey, wicked nations as He did to judge Israel and Judah, plagues, pestilence, the sword, etc. I believe the scripture is clear that the judgment used will be used against the one who makes the judgment. So for example, in the Old testament you will have a wicked king of Israel be assassinated which was inline with Gods spoken word of judgment, but the assassins were judged to be wicked and were killed in turn.

          I think the church body should hold its leaders responsible and do not trust outsiders to judge the body, nor do I think that is scriptural. 1 Cor states this concerning lawsuits among believers for instance.

          I know this site does get a lot of flack that it is attacking the church and doing the devils business. I think some of those thoughts may have some ground. I personally don’t like reading about the abuses in the church or other allegations. I do think it’s important for the church to stand for righteousness and expect its leaders to do the same. Some churches unfortunately, just like the world, have an elite class that are not subject to the same scrutiny as a laymen or congregant would face. Leaders in the church should be servant leaders and not lord it over the people. There is people worship and idolatry and when someone’s idol (pastor) is being attacked people get upset. Please understand that I am not saying you are doing this. People get more upset at this site for revealing disturbing truth rather than the person committing the abuse, etc.

          The statement where there is smoke there is fire is applicable. A lot of times we see smoke and assume its nothing or it will go out on its own, only to realize later a fire was roaring and no one did anything to put it out. Think about the abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, Harvest Church, etc. that list could go on and on. Concerning this article I think there is smoke.

          I appreciate you brother.

          1. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate the humility by which you addressed the issue.

            Just to make it clear – I do not go to Pastor John’s church nor do I listen to him regularly nor do I agree to some of his reformed teachings.

            If there is a proven misconduct, I am not averse to have them reported but most of the issues are mere allegations with unknown sources and one-sided affirmations. And so the good names are being shredded, not by unbelieving journalists but by self- professed, so called Christian investigators who does not have any qualms in asking for money for their ‘exposing ministry’ – I have been requested at least 2 times from yesterday to donate to this cause! That itself should be a clear ‘smoke’ (to use your language) about the unholy motive of this site.

            Imagine what Mrs Roys would have written about Apostle Peter when Ananias and Sapphira was struck down? Or when Apostle Paul commanded to hand over the wicked person on 1Cor to the devil for the destruction of the flesh? My point – from the outside, it may seem some actions done by church leaders are violent or lording it over etc and they will be mistaken if they start reporting from an outsider perspective.

            The exhortation is to ‘Judge those who are within..’ (1 Cor) – meaning those who belong to a church can be disciplined by the church but it is not Mrs. Roys business to poke her nose into other churches unless she thinks of herself as an apostle. I don’t consider her like that and it is for that purpose and the pain to see fellow Christians being torn apart by allegations and unknown sources that I decided to put in my comments.

            Again, this is my opinion and I understand you may not agree to it – that is fine since we all are learning and my opinion may not be correct.

            Thank you my friend for the decent responses and your genuine interest in seeing the church without spot and blemish ; my desire is the same but our means of achieving it seems to be different.

            Btw, 1 Cor 6 is about lawsuits whereas the quote I gave in 1 Cor 4 is about judging the hidden things of darkness where it is instructed to wait for the Lord. There is a command in Eph 5 to expose the unfruitful works of darkness but I consider it different from peddling allegations from Unknown sources.

        2. So it’s evil for a journalist to expose corruption in the church but it’s ok for you to expose what the journalist is doing as wrong in your opinion? Are you evil then for exposing what you think is evil?

          1. Recovering Baptist

            Amen. I don’t see any of these sanctimonious men condemning John MacArthur for his wicked, blasphemous teaching concerning the blood of Christ; that “We don’t want to get caught into the BIZARRE NOTION that there’s any saving efficacy in the fluid that ran from his body”–yeah, ol’ Johnny Mac actually agrees with cultist Mary Baker Eddy concerning the blood of Christ, AND he teaches that one can take the mark and still be saved.

            I actually broke fellowship with him and my former Conservative Baptist church because of this. JMac also travels with body guards, yet tells his congregation “The good news is you’re not wearing masks, and you’re not social distancing.”

            Maybe he can hold a charismatic healing service when his church falls ill. He actually said “There IS no pandemic.” I recently lost a friend due to this “non existent” pandemic, and John MacArthur has some explaining to do when he stands before God. John MacArthur is a CULT LEADER. Jesus said “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” We are to use the resources HE has given us to protect ourselves too, such as masks and social distancing.

          2. Hey why doesn’t everyone mind their own business and let the Shepard’s pastor the flock. Journalists are the new squealers and have done so much damage and run with it mostly with half truths. Beaten lies as well. If Journalists are quick to demonize anyone that doesn’t follow the masses. Truth is exchanged for a lie, that is for sure.

    2. The way I see it, Julie Roys has absolutely no authority at all. Her influence only comes from trust. Given the consistency and truthfulness in her reporting, many people have grown to trust Julie’s reporting over the so-called Christian leaders she is covering.

      I think what’s happening here is many have trouble with the fact that far too many Christian leaders are less trustworthy (if they can be trusted at all) than their secular counterparts. We’ve grown to expect that Christian leaders are far more likely to deflect and coverup issues when they have done wrong. It’s not even surprising anymore when lies and coverups happen in the church. I believe most people know this is the cold hard truth that’s hard to accept, so it’s easier to shift the blame on others. Some have the courage to confront unpleasant truths while others run away and blame. Humans can be funny that way.

    3. Thank u. I understand the pastors alligence is to God first, not government. The Bible does state to not forsake the assembling of meeting together.

  3. Keep going, Julie. The church, just like very other organization, is led by fallible human beings who are susceptible to sin. When that happens, and when the church fails to discipline itself and its leadership, we need good journalists to tell the whole story. Thank you.

  4. Flight 77 of Turkish Airlines, flies almost daily from Istanbul, Turkey, to Miami, Florida. Onboard, last time I checked, there were 297 passengers. The aircraft? A Boeing 787, the Dreamliner. It took that flight 12 hours and 40 minutes, over 6,000 miles to complete. Social distancing?
    Your comments, Julie?
    Uwe
    (Jude 3)

  5. Maybe covering up sin and covering over sin should be distinguished and given separate definitions. Surely there must be a difference between Satan accusing saints day and night of sins they have long ago confessed and repented of and the exposure of unrepentant sin or corruption people are trying to cover up or hide?

  6. No one is being forced to go to GCC. If a kid gets Covid while wearing a mask, that tells me something. If people are afraid of the virus, they should stay home. There is obvious risk if you don’t, but the fact is, the risk is minimal to healthy people under the age of 80. The problem is the hysteria about a virus with a 99% recovery rate is reported by the media as if numbers of cases equal a bad outcome, which is untrue. We have a government that sanctions abortion, infanticide, and assisted suicide, so the idea human life is paramount is a tough sell. Let people have the freedom to decide for themselves if they are willing to risk getting Covid and let the chips fall where they may. People are so afraid of dying of Covid that they’re willing to give up the very things that make life worth living. Get busy living or get busy dying.

  7. Not saying that is the case, but Master’s College does have incentive to keep it’s confirmed COVID case counts to a minimum to be in good graces with OSHA and LA County Health in order to not draw red flags. From my understanding, they had nearly full capacity on campus in residence halls this last semester under the guise of training the essential work force. They were one of a few colleges in LA County that were technically able to open. There was minimal social distancing and masking on campus and not all employees and students took the pandemic seriously. If you would have visited their coffee shop or taken a stroll to their library or bookstore which was open to guests during the last term, this would have been very evident. They are on winter break now and probably not counting staff and student positive COVID tests because they are not technically on campus though they may have caught COVID through campus or GCC related activities. Though it is hearsay, I was told that there were a number of employee Christmas parties where no one masked or social distanced and some became sick with COVID. They recently pushed back the start of the semester to February to possibly give more time for everyone to get over COVID. I understand that they are a business and need the revenue to stay open and stave off employee lay-offs and future revenue streams. That’s fine if that is true. I am a business owner and get it. Let’s just do that responsibly and communicate with love, honesty, and integrity. Do that now rather than later and you may not have to eat humble pie later and damage your reputation even further.

    1. I believe this. I fully support Macarthur and Masters in their stance, but there are consequences when you pretend that a pandemic doesn’t exist. People will catch Covid and it has real consequences. You can be a conservative Christian who believes in the freedom of the church and still think this pandemic is real.

    2. My sons attend TMU. They came home healthy and Covid free. Your comment about “ a full semester under the guise of training the essential work force” is not accurate. The college followed the California State GUIDELINES for opening up…not some “guise” as you put it. The students did follow guidelines, as best they could, or any person could. Some students did get sick and were quarantined. No full blown carnage! They were given STATE GUIDELINES and followed them.

      You use a few phrases like “hearsay” and “may haves” in your comments. You need to Give your appraisals based on facts so you can avoid using those phrases. You are misleading people.

  8. You knew it was going to come to this. Anyone with eyes to see knows that J Mac has always been a cult leader and false prophet, profiting for 51 years by fleecing his followers with false teaching. Filling a bible with false teaching and naming it after yourself to make money, what more do you need? But his dispensationalism which distorts the entire bible, his fundamentalism, and his complete narcissism and empire building. I put him on the level of a cult, with L Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He is much like Donald Trump. He has been smart enough to avoid scandal that will topple his empire, but hopefully, this is the scandal that will take him, his Grace Community Cult, and his whole empire down, after 51 unhinged years. He is now in the throes of trying to cover up the fact that his false teaching has gotten many people sick. As soon as someone dies, he needs to be arrested and put in jail for good. Los Angeles county has been far too lenient on him. It is now time for them to shut the cult down. And why should this surprise anyone? False prophets come along, as Jesus said in Matthew 7, looking orthodox. But by their fruits you will now them. J Mac is a mocker, a false prophet, and a thoroughly arrogant man. Time for this tree to be cut down and thrown into the fire.

    1. Sorry, Ethan – mean old Pastor MacArthur’s refusal to betray the word of God must offend you terribly. How dare he teach, and adhere to, Biblical truth if such truth doesn’t comport with your preferred lifestyle and beliefs? Surely you can do and believe anything you like and still be a “Christian”, right?

      You are deceived, Ethan. The word of God isn’t open to liberalization – Biblical wisdom isn’t beholden to adjustment through the non-existent wisdom of humankind. Pastor MacArthur knows this, evidently you don’t. That would make you the arrogant one. Repent. Perhaps a real church might help… may I recommend Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA?

  9. Reading this report and all of these comments is more confirmation that American Christianity is now one sick puppy. To turn necessary public health mandates into political and even theological planks is obscene. And it is clear that MacArthur runs a fear-based culture that thrives on intimidation and not God’s mercy. This sounds like a congregation and ministry that has lost its Christ-centered focus and that is now doing great harm to the gospel.

  10. I have always loved Pastor Macarthur and his church and fully support their rights to stay open. That being said, I do believe that because Macarthur has stated that he believes Covid is overblown, there is a great need in the congregation to keep quiet about their own Covid illnesses. Covid is really ramping up in Southern California (I just caught it myself) so it’s simply foolishness to think that out of 7000 church members no one would be sick. Whether or not the church is a contributing factor to contagion isn’t the point. But it’s not honest to deny that Covid is affecting some members.

  11. Considering most of the sources on this article were posted in the social media, I would say, the church is not very good in pressuring the people to keep quiet about Covid.They are not scared to post it online for all the world to see nor scared of repercussion. Are there really pressures to keep quiet or this is just pure gossip?

  12. Romans 13:1-7 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    1 Peter 2:13-17 13 Submit yourselves for the LORD’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

    It baffles me how someone so immersed in the study of the bible can ignore what it plainly says while stretching and manipulating a passage on meeting together. Where 2 or 3 are gathered is biblically sufficient for Christ’s presence. There is no biblical mandate requiring indoor meetings.

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