“Truth without love is brutality; love without truth is hypocrisy.” So says Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel Godspeak, in Thousand Oaks, California. This pastor and his flock have been standing tall against the tyranny of California’s Governor Gavin Newsom. It was my privilege to interview McCoy recently.
In December of 2019, McCoy was a member of the Thousand Oaks’ City Council and had also served as the city’s mayor. He was a favorite to win re-election to council in 2020. Then COVID hit, and nationwide, reason gave way to unscientific grabs for power, and officially promoted hysteria. On March 19 of 2020, Governor Newsom declared that bars and abortion clinics were essential businesses, but churches not so.
April 5 of 2020 was Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of any year to Christians, and Calvary Chapel Godspeak planned to celebrate the Lord’s Supper that day – as they do each first Sunday of the month. The state had ordered online worship only, a problem when Holy Communion is intended. McCoy and his elders decided to proceed under their God-given right and responsibility, guaranteed by the Constitution.
The service was unmolested by law enforcement and there were no Covid infections, but McCoy chose to proactively resign from city council, intending to avoid scandal for the city if he were censured. This is just one dimension of truth spoken in love to infuse this story. Another is the backdrop to the Bill of Rights, adopted during a time of recurrent smallpox epidemics. One such spread decimated the Continental Army during the Revolution, but no one so much as thought of declaring churches non-essential then.
Further speaking truth in love, and practicing it, too, the church also redoubled its efforts to care for the homeless, hungry, and sick. They recognize God as Provider and Healer, not despite medical resources and emerging treatments, but as their source. The church did offer a livestream service option and made what the press described as the cleanest place in Ventura County. They planned – after much prayer – a full re-opening for May 31, all while most churches in the state remained closed, citing scriptures about respecting governmental authorities.
McCoy is a serious practitioner of respect for governmental authorities. He has participated in government as a citizen and as an elected official, but he also respects the scriptures calling for obedience to God before men. He announced the plan to re-open and requested opportunity to minister without molestation.
As mentioned, there had been no infections, yet in mid-August, three county supervisors obtained a preliminary injunction ordering Godspeak to halt services. Pastor McCoy sought legal advice – counting the cost, as the Bible exhorts – and was told he could personally lose his church, his home, and be subject to IRS audit in addition to fines incurred.
McCoy says a rich peace enveloped him as he made his decision. He had in mind the last verse of that passage about counting the cost, “Anyone unwilling to give all he has cannot be my disciple.” Also, the passages from Acts 4 and 5 (paraphrased), “With all due respect, you can do as you wish, but we must obey God before men.” With that, McCoy told his attorney, “We are planning on disobeying the law tomorrow.” The attorney replied, “Then we will defend you.”
The county threatened to arrest the pastor and the first thousand people showing up to worship. During the event, one thousand people showed up from other churches (whose leaders had complied with the government order), saying, “We’re here saving the seats for your flock; if they want to arrest someone, they can arrest us.”
There were multiple decisions for Christ that day, both inside and outside the church, including one man carrying a sign that read, “It took this s**t to get this atheist to church.”
The resulting fruit was good. Yes, McCoy was cited for contempt, but there were no arrests and no further action except to assign a fine of $1500.00 per person attending. The fine totaled $300,000.00, but the judge deliberately assigned no due date, rendering the fine uncollectable. Six pastors preceded Pastor Rob when he testified, and all declared that because of his witness they gained the courage to open their own churches.
To this day, Godspeak church remains open – and infection free.
There also has been more fruit. McCoy felt moved to launch and lead, The Brotherhood of the Defiantly Obedient, a nationwide group of leaders holding doctrinally divergent views, but standing in unity against government overreach. They are united by their adherence to the ancient Nicene Creed (a summary statement of faith accepted by virtually all Christians) and their shared conviction about freedom. McCoy said, “If we don’t get the liberty piece, we will be discussing our theological disagreements from our prison cells.”
McCoy has also partnered with Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA to launch a companion vehicle called Turning Point USA – Faith, a ministry not to submerge faith in political concerns, but to inform the political sphere of the sovereignty of God.
For those who equate faith with hatred, Pastor McCoy is adamant that we only apply constraints to what is evil in order to pursue excellence. He echoes the admonition of Pastor Jackson Senyonga of Christian Life Ministries in Uganda, who said, “The condition of society is the report card of the Church.” McCoy reminds himself and others that love is the unlimited will to sacrifice, while its counterpart – lust – is unlimited will to sacrifice others. He says their respective fruit speaks for itself.
McCoy is living proof of Romans 8:28, in that God works all things together for good – sooner or later. one way or another – in those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
We can speak admiringly of McCoy, or we can even choose to walk his path, a blessing that carries its own reward. Rob McCoy can be reached at Rob@Godspeak.com.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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