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

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read