Free Grace Baptist Church on Wellington Avenue – seen here on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 – was one of two churches in Chilliwack that continued to hold in-person services despite public health orders. Chilliwack RCMP announced on Dec. 6 they were investigating. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Free Grace Baptist Church on Wellington Avenue – seen here on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 – was one of two churches in Chilliwack that continued to hold in-person services despite public health orders. Chilliwack RCMP announced on Dec. 6 they were investigating. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

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

RCMP issue fines on Dec. 17 for repeated offences

Chilliwack churches have been handed fines totalling $18,400 for repeated gatherings in violation of provincial public health orders.

Mounties served violation tickets to representatives from three places of worship allegedly conducting in-person gatherings contrary to the current public health orders, RCMP said in a news release Friday (Dec. 15).

On the mornings of Dec. 6 and 13, police responded to reports of groups of people gathering at three separate churches contrary to the existing ban on social gatherings.

READ MORE: Chilliwack RCMP confirms investigation of in-person church services

RELATED: OPINION: On individual rights versus community health

Chilliwack RCMP said officers worked with health officials and the BC Prosecution Service to attain the compliance of the congregations through education and enforcement.

On Dec. 17, police charged representatives of the congregations with eight counts of failure to comply with an order of a health officer, amounting to a total $18,400.

Two Chilliwack churches – Chilliwack Free Reformed Church and Free Grace Baptist Church – started holding in-person services on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, despite orders from Dr. Bonnie Henry on Nov. 19 banning such gatherings.

The two churches issued statements to The Chilliwack Progress, stating that the definition of an essential service is open to interpretation, they believe “Christians are commanded by God to attend public worship,” and that banning their worship services violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

READ MORE: Two Chilliwack churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

The topic prompted strong opinions on both sides, with the majority of letters to the editor – even from other Christian leaders – opposing the churches’ defiance of public health orders.

Although one Abbotsford pastor spoke in defence of in-person gatherings, and against the orders banning the practice.

READ MORE: LETTER: Retired pastor says church leaders holding in-person services need to publicly apologize

READ MORE: LETTER: Please, some respect for what you have taken

It’s unclear the name and location of the third church mentioned by the RCMP. The Progress will provide updates if this information becomes available.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

 

Free Grace Baptist Church on Wellington Avenue – seen here on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 – was one of three churches in Chilliwack receiving a total of $18,400 in fines for repeatedly violating provincial public health orders. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Free Grace Baptist Church on Wellington Avenue – seen here on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 – was one of three churches in Chilliwack receiving a total of $18,400 in fines for repeatedly violating provincial public health orders. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Just Posted

After gaining international recognition as The Konkens back in the 1970s, Frank and Ruby Konken had their two boys join the band in the ‘80s. They renamed themselves K-Kountry, performing country music to adoring audiences near and far. Photo: Frank Konken
Trail Blazers: Renowned musicians Frank and Ruby Konken

From country to Russian tunes, the Konkens are instrumental players in the world of recorded music

Louie Bedin at one of his rock walls with granddaughter, Felicia. Of his rock wall expertise Louie says, “You have to like to do it. You resolve. You say, ‘I did it.’ I’m happy I did it, because it is hard work, there is no doubt about it. I used to enjoy it.” Photo: Submitted
Celebrating Louie Bedin, Trail’s surviving stonemason extraordinaire

Luigi Giorgio Bedin said goodbye to his family in Italy on April 9, 1957.

Email letters to editor@trailtimes.ca.
Letter: Stand up for your taxpaying citizens

“We are no longer asking, but imploring that something be done.”

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s REDress Project exhibit vandalized

The REDress Project brings attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Most Read