VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The public health order temporarily banning religious gatherings in B.C. is not sitting well with everyone, and it seems some churches are ready to welcome in-person services once again this weekend.
Last Sunday, a couple of churches in Chilliwack defied the rules, releasing statements claiming the constitution guarantees peaceful assembly for worship, and a church in Langley was fined $2,300 for holding in-person services.
“We have sought to comply with the previous orders and have done so for eight months, but believe this recent prohibition restricting religious worship exceeds the Province’s authority under God and under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” writes Pastor James Butler of the Free Grace Baptist Church.
The Chilliwack church appears ready to open its doors again this Sunday. The top post on its Facebook page Friday morning is a quote from the Apostle Paul.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Apostle Paul: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of…
Earlier in the week, the RCMP in Chilliwack said it would continue with an educational approach to enforcing public health orders.
In Vancouver, a Catholic priest at St. Patrick’s church has gathered hundreds of signatures for an online petition asking the province to return to its previous rules on religious gathering, allowing up to 50 people at services.
“As many churches have had a good track record in following the existing protocols over the last seven months, it seems unfair to allow businesses and other commercial services to continue in their operations at the present moment but not church communities,” states Father James Hughes on his Change.org petition.
The Archdiocese of Vancouver declined an interview on the petition, saying the Archbishop is “in ongoing dialogue with the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, and Dr. Bonny Henry.”
However, in an emailed statement, it confirms that all Catholic churches on the Lower Mainland are observing provincial health orders and are not holding mass with a congregation.
“The Archbishop recognizes Catholics are making a great sacrifice, which he prays brings us the Lord’s blessing. He reminds the faithful that they can still feed their spiritual lives through individual prayer at home and that our churches remain open (and are following all COVID protocols) for private prayer.”
Many local churches continue to offer live-streaming of services while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.