Rev. Andrew Halladay, the vicar at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Langley, sits in an empty pew on Tuesday, Jan. 5. His church had to move online because of COVID-19 limits on public gatherings. Halladay is one of 38 church leaders in B.C. to sign a joint letter of support for provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Rev. Andrew Halladay, the vicar at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Langley, sits in an empty pew on Tuesday, Jan. 5. His church had to move online because of COVID-19 limits on public gatherings. Halladay is one of 38 church leaders in B.C. to sign a joint letter of support for provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Group of 38 B.C. church leaders ‘fully support’ Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix

Joint letter of support says they are ‘deeply disappointed’ by critical comments from some churches

A coalition of 38 church leaders in B.C. released a joint letter on Tuesday, Jan. 5, saying they “fully support” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, and were “deeply disappointed” with critical comments made by some faith leaders, who, they stressed, do not speak for them.

“We wanted to publicly reach out to show our deep respect and appreciation for you, your staff and all those in leadership in this most challenging time,” the letter stated.

“We fully support the work you have done throughout 2020 and appreciate your calm, considerate guidance and wisdom as you work to keep us all safe.”

READ ALSO: Dr. Bonnie Henry denies ‘constant condescension’ to faith community

The letter was co-written by Rev. Kristen Steele, pastor of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Langley, and Rev. Aneeta Saroop, pastor of the Spirit of Life Lutheran Church in Vancouver.

Rev. Steele said it was in reaction to news coverage of critical comments made by some church leaders who oppose the limits on public gatherings.

“There wasn’t a lot of our voices,” Steele remarked.

“We just wanted to show our support.”

It was circulated to other Lutheran, and Anglican churches which have what Steele described as a “working relationship” with the Lutheran church, then sent to Henry and Dix in late December.

“None of us have served in ministry through a global pandemic before and we look to experts to help us through these times,” they stated in the letter.

“Your work has been invaluable to us. We have been deeply disappointed in the multiple times that the voices of a particular group of faith leaders have been spotlighted and amplified publicly criticizing your work and your mandates. As you are already aware, those voices do not speak for all of us.”

They added they were “deeply grateful” that Henry and Dix have consulted with faith leaders.

“Thank you for your hard work. We continue to hold each of you, your staff, our government, BC’s front line workers and all impacted by COVID-19 in our prayers.”

One of the signatories, Rev. Andrew Halladay, the vicar at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Langley, has, like most church leaders, moved services online.

“The people in our congregation want to demonstrate their love of God by keeping people safe,” Rev. Halladay commented.

“The church is not the building, it is the relationship we have with each other,” Halladay added.

Rev. Steele concurred.

“The building is closed, but the church is not closed,” Steele told Black Press Media.

As well, leaders of churches in Victoria, Nanaimo, Castlegar, Prince Rupert, Port Alberni, Gibsons, Kamloops, Kelowna, North Vancouver, Delta, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Richmond, Maple Ridge, and Vernon, also signed.

READ MORE: Suspending in-person church services called an ‘act of Christian charity’ by Langley pastor

A few weeks earlier, Brad Sumner, pastor of the Jericho Ridge Community Church, located on the Langley-Surrey border, attracted thousands of views and dozens of mostly favourable comments when he posted an essay online that described shutting down in-person worship during the current rise in COVID-19 cases as “an act of Christian charity.”

Sumner asked “are worship services an essential service?” and concluded they are, but don’t need to be in-person.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusLangleyReligionreligious freedom

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

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read