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

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

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

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Most Read