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A megachurch in Sun Valley that has previously defied Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 public health orders is postponing plans to hold an annual conference in March that health officials feared could become a superspreader event.

The announcement on Friday by Grace Community Church said the move was taken because of threatened legal action by state and county officials. The move came after The Times published a story about the concerns expressed by public health officials.

The conference, originally scheduled for early March, was expected to draw 3,500 men from across the country to the church’s large campus. The complex is in an area that continues to have among the highest case rates of COVID-19 within the county, and neighbors have held protests after Sunday services, pleading with churchgoers to wear masks.

A few weeks after last year’s Shepherds’ Conference, two older men from Washington state who attended the event — one of them a 90-year-old pastor — died of complications from COVID-19, according to family members and news reports by Slavic Sacramento, a daily Russian-language news site in California. (It’s not known where the men contracted the virus or whether it was connected to the event.)

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