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Awaken Church
The front of Awaken Church’s Balboa campus, one of several locations in the region. The church has said it will continue offering indoor services despite state and county health orders. Photo courtesy of Awaken Church
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San Diego church continues indoor services despite county health order

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally reported that the church was planning on holding a grand opening event for its San Marcos location. The event has since been canceled.

REGION — A San Diego church with multiple locations throughout the region has said they will continue to hold indoor services despite receiving a cease-and-desist order from the county last week.

Awaken Church has received two cease-and-desist orders since the pandemic began, once at its Balboa campus in July and the latest one on Nov. 16 at the church’s Carlsbad location.

The order came just a couple of days after San Diego was moved into the most restrictive “purple” tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-level matrix for governing business operations.

Despite the county’s action against the church, however, Awaken says it will continue to hold indoor and online services. However, the church canceled its grand opening event on Nov. 29 for its new San Marcos location at 1760 Descanso Ave.

The church sent this statement to The Coast News: “Awaken Church will continue to offer the safest in-person & online services this weekend.

“Our campuses will continue to be cleaned and sanitized in accordance with CDC standards. We have invested over $100,000 in state of the art ‘Polar Ionization units’ that kill 99.4% of pathogens and viruses in the air, making our church locations one of the ‘safest’ places to be in San Diego.

“In keeping with our first amendment right we will continue to minister to those who are most greatly impacted by the COVID-19 lockdowns, namely those struggling with depression, anxiety, hopelessness suicidal thoughts and addiction.

“It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that in times of crisis the light of the church and the uplifting power of the gospel restores that much-needed, lifesaving hope & faith that carries the human spirit through all trials & tribulations!”

According to the county, if a cease-and-desist order is ignored, the next step would be a closure order. Then, law enforcement would get involved by giving citations with a $1,000 fine for each violation; then the case goes to either the San Diego County District Attorney or City Attorney.

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, who was originally supposed to lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the church’s grand opening event on Sunday, told The Coast News that she will no longer be participating because she will be out of town this weekend.

“It’s a very difficult position right now. We have health orders that we must comply with, and businesses are trying to just make it through the pandemic,” Jones said. “While I’m sympathetic, I would never suggest that anyone not follow the county health orders because I follow them myself.”

Jones has consistently been vocal about her desire to keep the county and its businesses open, but she maintained that if the City of San Marcos is asked to respond to a complaint, they wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

“I believe we should cautiously open up everything and be applying safety protocols across the board, and then figure out how to help businesses become successful,” Jones said. “However, we all know what the health orders are and we all need to follow them.”

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