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Spring Hills Church agrees to stop indoor services after fines for violating Sonoma County public health order

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People walk through the parking lot between services at Spring Hills Church in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Sunday, January 31, 2021. (NO BYLINE/ The Press Democrat)

A north Santa Rosa church that refused to curtail large, indoor services in defiance of Sonoma County health orders and state guidelines agreed to change course Sunday after the county fined the church twice over the weekend.

Spring Hills Church Pastor Bret Avlakeotes said the church would yield to the county’s direction to move services outside while holding out hope — and leading his congregation in prayer — for a U.S. Supreme Court intervention.

“We’re not looking to prove anything, and we’re not looking for a fight, alright?” Avlakeotes told his congregation Sunday. “If the county’s going to come in and is going to fight us all the way, then we’ll probably let them win this one. We’ll go outside.”

Avlakeotes, who announced the new direction Sunday during three indoor services at the Fulton Road church, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

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