Jericho Ridge Community Church pastor Brad Sumner posted an essay describing the shutdown of in-person services during a spike in COVID cases as an act of charity. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Jericho Ridge Community Church pastor Brad Sumner posted an essay describing the shutdown of in-person services during a spike in COVID cases as an act of charity. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Suspending in-person church services called an ‘act of Christian charity’ by Langley pastor

On-line services are not ideal, but advance the ‘common good’ by fighting spread of COVID-19

Shutting down in-person worship during the current rise in COVID-19 cases was described as “an act of Christian charity” by a Langley pastor who posted an essay online that asks “are worship services an essential service?”

They are, but they don’t need to be in-person, concluded Brad Sumner, pastor of the Jericho Ridge Community Church, located on the Langley-Surrey border.

While digital church services are not ideal, Sumner said, they still allow a sense of community to be maintained.

Sumner said Jericho Ridge moved almost everything “to phone calls or computer screens” in response to the provincial order restricting church assemblies issued on Nov. 10.

That includes youth contact work, prayer meetings, care for the vulnerable, benevolence work, staff and leadership meetings and a congregation-wide AGM.

“Is digital ministry optimal?” Sumner wrote.

“Nope. Is this most recent order ‘religious persecution?’ Probably not, when set alongside the experience of many in church history or the plight of the persecuted church around the globe today.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Langley church defies provincial ban on in-person services for a second time

Sumner stressed his comments were not meant as a swipe at the churches that have defied the order, like the Riverside Calvary church in Langley.

“Here at Jericho, we choose not to malign or marginalize those who interpret Scripture differently than us and who consider the current closure of churches unnecessary or unhelpful,” Sumner said.

“At the same time, if as people of faith we need to close our buildings for a season of time or not ride a party bus or not rent an AirBnB or not visit grandparents on the Island this Christmas, we choose not to believe that this is because the government has a current or future sinister plan to de-seat religion from its place in the fabric of the communities we live, work and worship in.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: A drive-in Halloween at the Jericho Ridge Community Church

He views the order suspending in-person religious gatherings was written as “preventative,” not punitive in nature, adding the church chose to comply with the order “out of respect for the sphere of authority (public health) that has been entrusted to the government. “

“I hate it that we can’t gather,” Sumner went on to say.

“Yet I feel that choosing to keep our doors closed for a few Sundays out of our 15-year existence as a congregation is an act of Christian charity undertaken for the sole purpose of advancing the common good.”

He added the “Spirit of God didn’t seem to be overly enamoured that buildings and gatherings be considered essential that first Christmas, and so perhaps we could un-enamour ourselves with them again for a time in this season.”



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusLangley

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

Just Posted

Abbotsford football star Chase Claypool has signed an endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan brand. (Air Jordan website)
Langley’s Chase Claypool signs with Nike’s Jordan brand

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad had to settle for knock-off shoes when he was a student

Someone bought a lottery ticket worth $4.2 million in Aldergrove (file)
Lottery ticket worth $4.2 million purchased in Aldergrove

Lotto 6/49 numbers were drawn Saturday

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Dale Nordal photographed a frosty scene in late 2020. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Frosty vista of Mount Baker by Langley City man

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

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

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

Most Read