Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Pastor says a ‘team of lawyers’ is being consulted

A Langley church has been fined $2,300 for defying a provincial ban on holding services, as previously ordered by the provincial health officer.

RCMP were called to the Riverside Calvary Chapel in the 9600-block of 201st Street around 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, to investigate a report that in-person services were being held.

Cpl. Holly Largy said officers found a services were in progress.

“They [the church members] were given an opportunity to disperse, which they declined,” Largy said.

That was when the fine was issued.

Police made a second trip to the church later in the day, but found there was no in-person service in progress, only a virtual one.

At the location, one church member – who did not want to be identified – called the ban an example of government “overreach,” but did not fault the police for enforcing it.

“I understand they’re doing their job, but it’s excessive.”

According to a notice on the ministry offices window that urged people to “be practical about hygiene and safety,” gatherings at the church had already been limited to 50 people before the ban.

On Monday afternoon, Nov. 30, pastor Brent Smith replied to a Langley Advance Times request for comment by saying the church was getting legal advice and hinting there will be a court challenge.

“We have a team of lawyers that are preparing a statement and will be representing us on these matters,” Smith said.

“We certainly are not looking for a fight. We just believe there has been many inconsistencies with what is essential, and we simply desire to worship our Lord in a safe and Biblical way.”

Online, the church website describes it as an “evangelical Protestant church” that is affiliated with the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, a California based mega-church with 30,000 members.

The website went on to say that “we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, that the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the inspired, infallible Word of God.”

A ban on most indoor events, including religious services, was ordered on Nov. 19 in response to an increase in COVID-19 transmission in B.C.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. extends private gathering ban province-wide

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shut down in-person religious services until at least Dec. 7. Prior to that, churches had been allowed to operate under the 50-person limit.

Henry said the intent of the province-wide restriction was to limit socializing to people in immediate households.

Exceptions were allowed for weddings, funerals, or baptisms with a maximum of 10 people present, and no receptions afterward.

“It is OK to go for a walk outside with a friend,” she said. “It’s OK to make sure that your grandparents pick up the kids at school, or that you’re able to fix the furnace in your mother’s house. Those are not social gatherings and social events.”

READ MORE: 2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Daycares, addiction support meetings, and other activities in church, gurdwara, or temple buildings were allowed to continue.

Two churches in Chilliwack have defied the order, as well, calling it a violation of the Charter of Rights.

Pastors at Chilliwack Free Reformed Church and Free Grace Baptist Church held services on Nov. 21 and 22.

“The identification of what is and what is not an ‘essential service’ is certainly open for interpretation, but in short, we believe that churches are essential, and that Christians are commanded by God to attend public worship,” Free Grace Pastor James Butler told Black Press Media.

“Our convictions compel us to worship our God in the public gathering of his people and we must act in accordance with our conscience,” Pastor John Koopman said.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusFort Langley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Langley, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge still driving more, taking transit less

A local letter writer is irate that tourists and people in the area of the resort community of Whistler are considered a higher vaccination priority than emergency personnel and other frontline workers. (Whistler Blackcomb photo)
LETTER: Langley man loses confidence in NDP after Whistler vaccination decision

Emergency personnel and other frontline workers should be vaccinated before Whistler tourists

Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta will be at a ceremony marking 70 years since Canadian soldiers fought at the Battle of Kapyong, held at the Gapyeong Memorial in Langley’s Derek Doubleday Arboretum on Friday, April 16. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley battle memorial marks 70 years since pivotal clash in Korean War

The Gapyeong Memorial will host a small, private ceremony this Friday

Prince George Cougars triumph over the Langley-based Vancouver Giants Monday night, by the score of 4-1. That follows a similar defeat on Saturday by the same team. (Cougar’s Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)
Vancouver Giants fall in 4-1 loss to Prince George

WHL hockey team goes up against Victoria in Kamloops on Thursday

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

White Rock's popularity as a destination places it in a difficult position in ensuring provincial health orders are followed, Coun. David Chesney said, asking that staff obtain impartial input from both Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health before further measures are debated. (File photo)
Pandemic crowding on waterfront vexes White Rock council

Overcrowding, extra garbage the downside of take-out business

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Most Read