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

Cole Schisler, editor of the Ladysmith Chronicle.
Hatred has no place anywhere

We accomplish so much more when we respect each other

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Rachel Dunstan Muller. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith storyteller Rachel Dunstan Muller launches pair of podcasts

Hintertales: Stories from the Margins of History and Sticks and Stones and Stories are available now

(Black Press file photo)
Multiple vehicle collision at Grouhel Road stalls highway traffic

Two emergency services helicopters responded to the collision

Chemainus Festival of Murals Society president Tom Andrews displays the Chemainus Dollars $10 bill with the same scene on it as The Native Heritage mural. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Dollars revert to being strictly souvenirs on April 5

Unique currency turns collectible under the Festival of Murals Society

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Most Read