Relying on a different kind of power: Many Grass Valley churches continue service despite PG&E shutoff |

Relying on a different kind of power: Many Grass Valley churches continue service despite PG&E shutoff

Sam Corey
Staff Writer


The National Weather Service of Sacramento issued a Red Flag Warning through 11 a.m. on Monday.

PG&E will likely begin the power restoration process at 6 a.m. Monday, according to Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Administrative Analyst Jenn Tamo.

The county is reporting another possible shutoff Tuesday through Wednesday because of high wind gusts, according to the National Weather Service.

As predicted, wind gusts were strong Sunday.

Trees were splayed on the ground, and leaves whipped from branches.

But that didn’t stop many from partaking in their regular routines, including attending Sunday Mass.

We don’t rely on electrical power, said Grass Valley’s Foothill Church attendee Gary “Spike” Uhler. “We depend on that power,” he said, pointing to the sky.

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A band was preparing for the 10 a.m. service at Foothill. Like some others, this was the first Sunday service the church was without electricity. The church doesn’t have a backup generator, but due to the consistent outages, Uhler said it’s considering buying one.

The bigger problem the church has to deal with is running water: on Sunday, the restrooms weren’t working.

Many attendees were also going about their business as usual at Grass Valley’s Bethel Church. Pastor Cindy Johnson said services were moved to areas inside the church that had natural light so things could proceed as normal without power.

“We say, ‘We still have the power of the Holy Spirit,’” said Johnson.

Bethel Church has mostly been adversely impacted on Wednesdays — when power shutoffs have forced the cancellation of Bible study and other programming, attracting about 90 people. Johnson said a women’s retreat had to be postponed due to the shutoffs.

The church may purchase portable generators, said Johnson.

This was not the first time either Bethel or Foothill has had to persevere through difficult conditions: cancellations have occurred due to the snow.

Some churches were a bit more lucky, like those who had power on Grass Valley’s Church Street.

But Grass Valley United Methodist Church Pastor Becky Goodwin said the church would still be open, even if they were included in the shutoff.

“We go on spiritual power — even if there’s no electricity,” she said.

Goodwin said people are welcome to gather at the church during the week to charge their phones or get coffee if they are without power. She expected a slightly lower turnout for her 10:30 a.m. service Sunday.

Simple Truth Church of Grass Valley was also powered up and fully running.

Cassie Triplett, daughter to one of the church’s pastors, said she brought in LED lights for the bathrooms, but discovered at 5 a.m. that they weren’t necessary.

“It was a blessing,” she said.

The turnout, she said, was a bit lower than their usual Sunday service.

The church had to cancel a Friday dinner because they didn’t have power, but, as of now, their Sundays — like many other churches in Grass Valley — have remained relatively unaffected.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email or call 530-477-4219.

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