By Marlee Ginter

ROCKLIN (CBS13) – Large crowds went to Rocklin on New Year’s Eve night, but not to head to the bars or restaurants to ring in the New Year.  They were headed to Destiny Church for a black-tie wedding with entertainment for a big event, including a Ferris wheel.

“I mean that’s probably a concern especially around here since we’ve been doing kind of good with all the COVID cases,” said Jase Giorgi of Rocklin.

The megachurch is already under fire, in part, for continuing to hold in-person services despite the pandemic. Protesters gathered outside the church in early December, some citing health concerns.  Destiny Church sent CBS13 this statement:

A wedding is a religious ceremony protected by the first amendment, giving individuals the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the free exercise thereof. Under current State regulations, weddings are permitted. 

The wedding, a private religious ceremony, is following guidelines with social distancing, temperature checks, sanitation stations, and more. This religious ceremony includes worship, holy communion, and prayer. The Supreme Court has already ruled that states cannot restrict religious gatherings, which has been affirmed by the Superior Court of LA. 

It’s astonishing that in a season marked by challenges, news agencies like The Sacramento Bee and reporter Michael McGough, who have repeatedly targeted Destiny Church and its members, choose to vilify the celebration of marriage.

“I really think that people if they’re not going to take responsibility then there should be some sort of penalty because people’s lives are at stake. It’s not a funny thing,” said Shai Leigh of Rocklin. “It’s almost, I think, it’s almost criminal, to be honest with you.”

The Placer County Health Department says it has spoken with the facility and sent CBS13 this statement:

Placer County is still under the Governor’s regional stay-at-home order and indoor operations at places of worship are not currently permitted under that order. Public health officials have spoken to this facility in the past and we are aware of the matter being referred to the city jurisdiction.

There have been a handful of recent confirmed COVID-19 cases who have reported attending programs at the facility while infectious. We continue to encourage members of the public to avoid crowded indoor environments as the county’s cases and hospitalizations continue to increase. -Rob Oldham, Interim Health Officer

“If that’s what they want to do. I get times are hard right now but if people wanted to join their wedding that was their choice to make.  If anything happens to them then that was a choice they decided to make,” said Lily Clark of Citrus Heights.