A Kelowna church congregation will continue to worship together, despite receiving a ticket from police.
Earlier the Capital News reported that Harvest Ministries International in Kelowna was issued a $2,300 ticket for violating COVID-19 public health orders, for the second time.
Mounties visited the church twice, once on Dec. 6, taking an educational approach, and again on Dec. 19, when they issued a ticket to the ministry representative.
Senior staff member and pastor, Heather Lucier, who confirmed she received the ticket from RCMP on Dec. 19, said it was expected, and changes nothing.
She explained their non-denominational 100-person congregation gathers two nights a week, split into two 50-person, socially-distanced groups.
Since the pandemic began, Lucier said they haven’t stopped gathering.
“Truth of the matter is, we haven’t stopped. Because we believe it’s our constitutional right to do so.
“We have let our people know that biblically, the bible says don’t neglect gathering together. That’s the high law that we follow. And if there’s an issue… if we have to choose, we’re choosing biblical law.”
Harvest Ministry has been around for about 18 years, and in Kelowna, since 2018. Lucier said the church is just one part of a global humanitarian effort.
She said if bars and restaurants can be open, so should they be allowed to welcome people in, adding the church should be considered an essential service.
“Suicide rates are going up, depression rates are going up, and people are looking to the church. And it’s time for the church to make a stand. And so we are making a stand,” Lucier said.
She explained they’re not protesting for the sake of protesting.
“This is what we’ve done, this is what we always will do. So we’re just continuing on. We’re just doing what we’re called to do, as pastors and leaders. We’re having our church open.”
The Kelowna RCMP called Lucier’s statements “very disappointing,” adding officers will continue to actively investigate and take necessary enforcement action on reports of non-compliance with the provincial health orders.
Lucier confirmed Jan. 7 that following the ticket, the church has consulted with a lawyer, and plans on fighting it in court. She said a date has not yet been set for a court date, and expects to know more in the coming months.
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