An undated Google Maps image of the Free Reformed Church of Langley at 20757 80th Avenue, which issued a Dec. 20 bulletin to members that reported 19 churches in the Fraser Valley are holding in-person worship in defiance of a provincial COVID-related ban. (Google)

An undated Google Maps image of the Free Reformed Church of Langley at 20757 80th Avenue, which issued a Dec. 20 bulletin to members that reported 19 churches in the Fraser Valley are holding in-person worship in defiance of a provincial COVID-related ban. (Google)

As many as 19 Fraser Valley churches have defied a COVID-related ban on in-person worship

Fines will not be paid, and a legal challenge will be mounted, Langley church bulletin reports

As many as 19 churches in the Fraser Valley have been holding in-person services in defiance of a provincial ban ordered to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As reported in a Dec. 20 church bulletin sent to members of the Free Reformed Church (FRC) of Langley at 20757 80th Avenue, there was a meeting of pastors and elders from churches in the Fraser Valley the previous week, where they discussed the fines that have been levied against several of them.

“There were some 50 pastors and elders of some 19 churches, mainly evangelical churches,” including three Free Reformed Churches, the bulletin reported.

As of that meeting, it was estimated that fines of $2,300 each have been issued to one church in Langley, two to a church in Abbotsford, and eight to four churches in Chilliwack, for defying the Nov. 19 order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banning such gatherings in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

READ MORE: 3 Chilliwack churches fined $18,400 for violating B.C.’s COVID ban on gatherings

“These fines will not be paid, but will be challenged through the court system,” the bulletin reported, with the help of the Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) and advice from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA).

Online, the Calgary-based JCCF describes itself as a “public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity” that aims to “defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.”

JCCF went to court seeking a interim injunction against Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory mask-wearing, but the application was dismissed Monday Dec. 21, with the judge ruling the restrictions can remain in place until a full hearing of the challenge is heard.

JCCF did not respond to a Langley Advance Times request for comment on any pending litigation in B.C.

ARPA has campaigned against rainbow flags and legislation that bans so-called “conversion therapy.”

It’s online mission statement says the “mission of ARPA Canada is to educate, equip, and encourage reformed Christians to political action, and to bring a biblical perspective to our civil authorities.”

Free Reformed Church of Langley pastor Tom Aiken declined to comment further on the bulletin other than saying whoever provided the copy of the bulletin to the Langley Advance Times was “unauthorized” to do so.

Aiken directed requests for comment to church elder John Den Dekker, who also declined.

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

Langley-based Culture Guard executive director Kari Simpson, who has spoken on behalf of the Riverside Calvary Church in Langley that was fined for hold in-person worship, confirmed the meeting of church elders, and said the legal action referred to in the bulletin was pending.

FRC Langley has been holding in-person services as well, but has not been ticketed.

“Our small size, and therefore our small numbers would appear to be the reason we have had little harassment so far,” the bulletin said.

“We have been advised to lock our doors when the service starts so that there will be no interference in the worship.”

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

In the bulletin, the pastors and elders of the 19 churches said they were “united in our understanding of our duty is to obey God rather than man, refusing to recognize that the government has authority to suspend worship services in this arbitrary manner through a health order which provides no evidence that there has been any transmission of Covid-19 through the Christian churches and that allows similar venues to remain open.”



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

South Surrey nurse Brittany Williams has been involved with the Burn Camp since 2013. (Contributed photo)
Burn camp ‘really puts things in perspective,’ says South Surrey nurse

Brittany Williams’ experiences hoped to boost Hometown Heroes Lottery fundraiser

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – checkpoint at Manning Park

Four checkpoints are set up Thursday, May 6 around the province

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

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

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read