CCA Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference 2021

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Gary Hamrick & Mike McClure teach at CCA Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference

Story by Kate Larsen
Photos by Tom Price and Josh Larson

Follow Calvary Chapel Magazine as we publish summaries of the teachings at the CCA 2021 Calvary Chapel International Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference at CC Golden Springs, CA.

In this installment, pastors Gary Hamrick and Mike McClure share a session encouraging—and exhorting—attendees to stand strong for what is right, hold fast, and apply God’s Word to our cultural challenges. Gary is the pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, VA, and Mike the pastor of Calvary Christian Fellowship in San Jose, CA.

Watch Day 3 of the CCA Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference in its entirety.

Pastor Joe Focht of CC Philadelphia, PA, introduced two pastors whose churches have made national headlines facing cultural challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gary Hamrick and Mike McClure exhorted conference attendees to hold fast, stand strong, and be brave.

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Gary Hamrick, senior pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, VA, teaches during Session 9 at the CCA conference. Because he needed to remain in Virginia to minister to grieving members of his fellowship, Gary is teaching remotely from a pre-recorded message.

Gary Hamrick

Up first and joining via a pre-recorded video, Gary opened with a word of encouragement for every attendee: In the face of current challenges—the pandemic, an election perceived by many to be corrupt, a country gone “woke” with even churches joining in, forced vaccinations and mask mandates, and cities set on fire—pastors need to address these issues head-on and apply the Word of God to them.

In Luke 21:25, Jesus speaks of the signs of the coming of the Son of Man saying, And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring. Believing in an actual fulfillment of the verses, Gary proposed the thought that perhaps they are to be fulfilled figuratively as well—as in this cultural tossing. People are confused and searching for the truth, trying to navigate all of the craziness in our world, trying to understand. “They are looking to us to speak into the culture and apply God’s Word,” Gary stated.

Comparing the often-quoted verses about submission to government found in Romans 13 with the call to not forsake gathering in Hebrews 10:24-25, his stance came down to, “I just want to honor God in all things.”

Pastor Gary recounted the four times Cornerstone Chapel was fined by the local health department over the course of the pandemic as they surveyed the church’s livestream for evidence to bring charges against them. He shared how at first the searching upset him, but in the end made him grateful as they were watching services and hearing the Gospel.

Gary then told the story of a school teacher in his church body, Tanner Cross, who, emboldened by the exhortation to “occupy until I [Jesus] come,” stood against a proposed local school board policy allowing children to self-determine their gender and force teachers to address them as such. Stating it was against his faith to deceive and lie to the children in such a way, Tanner was suspended from his teaching position for a period of time. He has since been reinstated and the policy passed, but a lawsuit is now pending in which he and other teachers have joined alongside him in defense of the children

“Uncompromisingly teach,” Gary exhorted. “Get involved socially and politically. Live it out.” Referring to 2 Thessalonians 2:5-9, he stated, “The presence of the Church and the power of the Holy Spirit is the restraining force against evil in the world. We are called to be that restraining force against the rise of evil.” He pleaded, “Put your faith into practice, engage the culture, and influence with righteousness.”

Pastor Gary left the audience with a quote by the late pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

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Mike McClure, senior pastor of Calvary Christian Fellowship in San Jose, CA, shares encouragement and challenges with the pastors and leaders at the conference. His church has made national headlines and faced millions in fines for opening its doors during the pandemic.

Mike McClure

Mike McClure began by reading from John 10:10-14, calling pastors to care—like the Good Shepherd—for their flock in these challenging times. His church has been at the center of much controversy in California over the course of the pandemic, having accumulated over $3.9 million in fines from Santa Clara County; his legal case against that county continues. However, Mike recounted several stories of the opportunities the Lord has given him to witness because of the trial.

“They have been telling us for years, ‘Separation of church and state’, and now they’re coming in here telling us how to worship,” Mike stated. “What does a shepherd do? What does a good pastor do? There are a lot of hirelings today leaving the sheep.”

He talked of the Mayflower and the pilgrims, the first founders of the United States searching for religious freedom and founding the country upon it. The Declaration of Independence was written by “preachers who understood the heart of man.”

“Those who don’t use their rights will end up losing their rights,” Pastor Mike admonished with a quote attributed to the late C.S. Lewis.

Mike reminded the pastors of the Great Commission, that all authority belongs to Jesus, and that God would go with them. “Be strong and be faithful,” he urged. “Feed the sheep. Tend to the sheep. Care for and teach the sheep.” Quoting Acts 2:42 and Hebrews 10:24-25, he proclaimed the importance of physically gathering as a church; referencing Acts Chapter 4, he described the necessity to “obey God rather than man.” Continuing with 2 Timothy 3, he stated that the perilous times and perilous men described in the passage were just like “watching the news” today.

Pastor Mike continued his appeal exhorting the pastors to be compassionate as well as “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). “Never let a crisis go without proclaiming the Good News,” he contended. “It’s starting to get dark out, and your light is going to shine brighter.”

He spoke of the challenges he and his wife have faced during the trial, understanding that they could possibly lose everything. And, as he has had to question himself, he asked those listening to him to ponder—Do I really believe? Am I willing to lay down my life for what I believe in?

“‘This isn’t political,’ Chuck Smith used to say. ‘We’re [just] living in biblical times,’” Mike recalled.

Mike ended with an encouragement to “stand in such a way that gives glory to God for the next generation”; he also quoted Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.” No matter what comes against churches in these Last Days, God is for us, and that is something we all need to remember, he exclaimed.


Watch Day 3 of the CCA Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference in its entirety.

Learn more about Calvary Chapel Association

Visit the websites of the contributing pastors:
Pastor Gary Hamrick’s church at:
Pastor Mike McClure’s church at:


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.