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

Grand Forks RCMP and Grand Forks Fire/Rescue near the scene of a motor vehicle accident Thursday evening, Jan. 21, in the vicinity of Highway 3 near the intersection of Danshin Village Road. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
First responders attend Highway 3 crash West of Grand Forks

It is not known how many people were involved in the accident

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

The bill was discussed at Grand Forks Social Services Advisory Group’s last meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks City Hall spends around $6,000 on recent Moto clean up

The city’s bill came up for discussion at the Social Services Advisory Group on Wednesday, Jan. 20

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

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.

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health South Okanagan Similkameen

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Most Read