A Langley church has been fined $2,300 for defying a provincial ban on holding services ordered by the provincial health officer.
RCMP were called to the Riverside Calvary church in the 9600 block of 201 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 an in-person service was 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.
A ban on indoor events was ordered on Nov. 19 in response to an increase in COVID-19 transmission in B.C.
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.”
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.
It 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.”
Two churches in Chilliwack have defied the order, saying it is a violation of the Charter of Rights.
Pastors at Chilliwack Free Reformed Church and Free Grace Baptist Church held services on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, two and three days after such gatherings were banned.
“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,” Pastor James Butler of Free Grace Baptist commented.
“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.