Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), along with Free Grace Baptist Church, held in-person services despite the Nov. 19 public health order banning indoor gatherings. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), along with Free Grace Baptist Church, held in-person services despite the Nov. 19 public health order banning indoor gatherings. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack RCMP confirms investigation of in-person church services

Church services go against most recent public health orders for gatherings

Chilliwack RCMP say they are investigating a small number of churches that continue to hold services despite public health orders.

“The Chilliwack RCMP continue to work closely with provincial, regional health officials, and the BC Prosecution Service in the education and enforcement of current COVID-19 health regulations,” says Cpl. Mike Rail, media liaison officer for the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment. He issued the statement to media on Dec. 6.

“Although the vast majority of places of worship in Chilliwack and throughout our region are complying with the directions of the provincial health order, a small number of congregations continue to conduct in-person services contrary to the existing BC Provincial Health Order,” he says.

“RCMP are actively pursuing investigations of the in-person congregation services conducted in Chilliwack on Sunday December 6, 2020.”

They will not be releasing any other information or comments until the investigation is finished, he adds.

“At the conclusion of a thorough investigation, Chilliwack RCMP in consultation with the BC Prosecution Service will determine the next course of action,” he says.

At least two churches in Chilliwack are continuing to hold public worship services, and their pastors have spoken to The Progress about that choice.

“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 said in a statement on Nov. 26.

“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 of the Chilliwack Free Reformed Church said in a statement on Nov. 27.

It is not clear if either church has been fined for holding the services, and Rail did not identify which churches the RCMP are investigating.

A fine was levied on the Riverside Calvary church in Langley, after RCMP were called to the Riverside Calvary Chapel on the previous Sunday, Nov. 29, to investigate a report that in-person services were being held.

A representative for that church, Kari Simpson of Culture Guard, says they intend to fight the fine of $2,300.

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

READ MORE: B.C. church defies provincial ban on in-person services for a second time

-with files from Dan Ferguson


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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