Langley RCMP have issued at least two tickets to the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley for continuing to hold services despite public health orders. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley RCMP have issued at least two tickets to the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley for continuing to hold services despite public health orders. (Langley Advance Times file)

Injunction sought against Fraser Valley churches defying B.C. health orders

Churches in Langley and Chilliwack have continued to hold services.

The B.C. government and Dr. Bonnie Henry are seeking a court injunction this Friday against three Fraser Valley churches that have denied public health orders to cease holding in-person services.

Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, along with Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack took the government to court in January.

They have petitioned a judge to lift orders that banned or restricted public gatherings, “as they unjustifiably infringe the rights and freedoms of the petitioners [the churches] guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” according to the claim filed by lawyers for the churches.

The churches also asked that tickets issued against them, amounting to thousands of dollars in fines, be dismissed. The petition to the court characterizes the government’s health orders as an “abuse of government power” and “draconian.”

Lawyers for the B.C. government and Henry filed a response to the churches’ legal action on Feb. 2, opposing every action the churches asked the courts to take.

The health orders in question were put in place in November. They shut down a number of types of gatherings, including weddings and movie theatre showings, but allowed for some others to continue, including limited seatings in restaurants.

READ MORE: Langley church fined a second time for ignoring COVID ban on gatherings

But by November, the number of COVID-19 cases was spiking in B.C., and the government response argues that the province “faced exponential growth in transmission. A number of the clusters were linked to religious events.”

The ban “does not apply to online services, drive-through services, individual meetings with religious leaders or to private prayer or contemplation,” the government noted.

Riverside Calvary Chapel noted that it did initially halt all services during the early part of the pandemic, and resumed them in late May under the 50-person rule that was in effect through the summer and early fall.

The churches are being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The conservative Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) has applied to intervene in the case to argue on Charter of Rights issues as well.

The Friday hearing on the injunction order is to be held at 10 a.m. in the Vancouver courthouse.

The majority of churches in Langley and around the Fraser Valley have switched to either virtual services via computer, or are holding “drive in” services in parking lots where families stay in their cars to hear the sermon.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicschilliwackCoronavirusLangleyReligion

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

Just Posted

The Canim Lake Band’s new housing project is nearing completion and should be ready in time for the spring. (Photo submitted)
Canim Lake Band’s new ‘tiny homes’ slated for completion this summer

Construction of four 500-sq.ft ‘tiny homes’ and one three-bedroom house began in August 2020.

Fire Chief Roger Hollander supervises the filling of the 100 Mile Outdoor Ice Rink. Hollander and the 100 Mile Fire Rescue are currently looking for new members. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile House)
100 Mile Fire Rescue seeks new recruits

Annual recruitment drive runs until the end of February.

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sarah Carter and Melody Watkins say that understanding bullies behaviour and helping those victimized are the keys to reducing bullying. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
PSO students tackle bullying

Pink Shirt Day PSO is about making sure victims of bullying are not alone.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read