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

Local letter writer expects more people turning to prayer during pandemic. (File photo)
LETTER: More people likely turn to prayer during pandemic, Langley man contends

Pandemic, politics and the economy are giving people reason to call on a higher power, he writes

Langley’s Julie Vantol shared this picture of her “intrepid” three-year-old son Jonas cycling along the shores fo the Fraser River on a recent sunny winter day. “Great day for a bike ride along the beach at Derby Reach trailhead, at 208th,” with the snow covered mountains in the background, she said. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Perfect biking weather?

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

Fort Langley’s Wout Brouwer captured this picture of McMillan Island from the opposite shore of the Bedford Channel on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Maple Ridge mountaintops backdrop former Ridge church

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

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Langley churches offer in-person services precisely because they care about people

Letter writer concerned Township councillor wants to punish churches with tax threat

Crows gather at in the cottonwoods of Sandra Kidder’s neighbour in Aldergrove every winter morning just before sunrise. (Sandra Kidder/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Aldergrove cottonwoods hosts morning murder of crows

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

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

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

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Most Read