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

Nanaimo RCMP report that a number of scams, many of them familiar, have recently resurfaced in Nanaimo and cost victims thousands of dollars. (File photo)
Nanaimo man scammed after lending money and receiving fake gold jewelry in return

RCMP provide details of several recent scams to warn the public

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins in Nanaimo for man involved in car crash that killed retired police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

Next week Nanaimo singer Laura Kelsey is releasing her new single A Foolish Thing and its accompanying music video. (Video still courtesy Greg Nuspel)
Nanaimo singer joined by wolf, dancers in new music video

‘A Foolish Thing’ is Laura Kelsey’s first professionally made single in seven years

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youths launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund virtual care platform

Two semi trucks collided on the Nanaimo Parkway just north of Northfield Road on Wednesday morning, May 5. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: Semi truck driver now in stable condition following this week’s crash on Nanaimo Parkway

RCMP repeat call for any dashcam footage around 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday, May 5

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youths launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund virtual care platform

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read