A new Prince Rupert group of worshipers is launching a campaign to protest the recent Northern Health ban on in-person religious services.
The group named ReopenWorship.org is calling for small groups of less than ten people to meet in private homes for worship gatherings, while churches and temples are closed to in-person services under the Provincial Health Act.
“At this stage in the pandemic, it’s right for communities of faith to speak out and to ask the government to respect our rights. We have all worked together by following the rules and limiting the spread of COVID-19,” the organization stated on their website.
“With most public events and gatherings once again opening up and vaccination rates improving, people can end isolation and get back together. But places of worship are shuttered for worship services. Communities of faith should be treated fairly and not singled out,” ReopenWorship.org said.
The ban on worship was enacted on Nov. 30 with new orders in the Northern Health region and is not a province-wide health order. The new orders were initiated by the Public Health Officer of the Northern Health Authority. Worship bans in a few Fraser Health regions are also in effect.
“Northern Health’s rules allow all sorts of public indoor activities but not in-person worship at a church, temple, or other places of worship. What’s allowed includes eating at restaurants and pubs, attending plays, concerts, and movies, attending hockey and other sporting events, and going shopping,” the home page of the groups’ website stated.
“Churches and other faith communities are being singled out, and this is harming faith communities by isolating believers and unfairly limiting the practice of our faiths. Fortunately, people can still worship together in their homes – by inviting up to ten others to join them for a worship gathering at home.”
“In-person worship is important for the spiritual life of Prince Rupert. We each have the right to assemble together and to practice our faiths in places of worship. Worship strengthens communities and is vital to them. Let’s reopen worship for Prince Rupert,” the organization stated on their website.
Tom Kertes, the organizer of the ReopenWorship.org group, said he will hold an in-person worship service at his private residence on Dec. 12th, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., with services being live from St. Paul Lutheran church in Prince Rupert. There will be a limit of ten guests plus the home’s occupants.
Contact tracing information will be collected, guests must wear masks and be fully vaccinated, Kertes said.
The Northern View reached out to Northern Health for comment who was unavailable at the time of publication.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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