Rev. Kelly Duncan of Fort Langley’s St. George’s Anglican Church says some online worship will remain – even after COVID – to reach those who can’t come in person. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Rev. Kelly Duncan of Fort Langley’s St. George’s Anglican Church says some online worship will remain – even after COVID – to reach those who can’t come in person. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Safety, community key as B.C. churches prepare to welcome worshippers

Religious gatherings indoors will start up again soon

Places of worship will be allowed to welcome people back inside as part of the first step of B.C.’s re-opening plan, underway now, but Langley churches are taking it slow and moving in careful stages.

At Langley’s St. George’s Anglican church, more than a century old, there was no in person service scheduled for Sunday, May 31, the first weekend after the re-opening plan was announced, said Rev. Kelly Duncan.

The provincial announcement on Tuesday, May 25 said that indoor in-person faith-based gatherings would be able to resume at a reduced capacity.

But not all churches, including St. George’s, will be able to head back right away. A pastoral letter from Bishop John Stephens said that indoor worship won’t start in local Anglican churches until June 15.

“There is no indoor worship allowed at the moment unless it is for recording online worship (with a maximum of 10 people),” Stephens wrote.

Indoor worship will resume for Anglican churches as early as June 15, once all COVID protocols including masking, distancing, and contact tracing are in place, but with a ban on congregational singing.

Larger places of worship have other challenges and different plans.

Derrick Hamre, lead pastor at Langley’s Christian Life Assembly, has been working with his team on plans to slowly bring back approximately 3,000 people across several campuses to in-person worship.

That doesn’t mean that worship will be mass gatherings in the church itself right away.

“The church is not a building, the church is people,” Hamre said.

That’s why the first phase of CLA’s re-opening is to ask church members to open up their own homes as places of hospitality and gathering. With people now allowed to have members of other households visit, it’s gatherings of families and individuals that starts first.

“That’s where we begin, very grassroots,” said Hamre. “Love one another, connect with one another.”

The second stage will be bringing back people for gatherings in separate congregations. Youths, seniors, addiction recovery groups – they’ll be able to meet in church buildings in groups of 50 or fewer, with safety protocols.

After that, the public opening will be the first Sunday after June 15, assuming the provincial plan stays on track.

“We’re excited about that, we haven’t had Sundays open, really, for a year,” Hamre said.

The maximum number of people allowed to gather for worship indoors is expected to be 50.

Since November, during the second wave of COVID-19 that saw cases spike before the holidays, there has been no indoor worship allowed in churches, temples, and mosques in B.C., and local faith communities have turned to everything from virtual services via computer to gathering in cars in parking lots.

READ MORE: B.C. extends private gathering ban province-wide

READ MORE: Langley restaurants, businesses happy to see re-opening road map

Duncan said the St. George’s is being very cautious.

As for what a return to in-person worship will be like, Duncan said the first phase will likely be much like what was in place last summer and fall, when churches were open but with reduced capacity.

Those who want to attend in person will probably have to register in advance, she said.

At CLA, Hamre said the church is planning to hold a number of in-person special events over the summer to celebrate together as restrictions ease.

At St. George’s Duncan said there will still be some form of online worship for those who can’t come, but it won’t be a live stream of the indoor service.

“Doing a hybrid service in the church live is not something that’s easy to do,” she said, due to the age of the building.

However, the church does want to keep reaching out online even after the restrictions are all lifted.

The last year has brought in entirely new parishioners who had never set foot in the church before the pandemic, as well as some familiar faces.

“Folks that had moved away, that had been sorry to leave their church community,” Duncan said.

In addition, the online system allows reaching out to people who can’t leave their homes, whether for the long term or because of a temporary condition.

“It’s something that we’re trying to hold on to, absolutely,” she said.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusLangleyReligion

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

Barriers to rental housing brought on by no-pet rules add stress to renters, says councillor. (Pixabay)
Saanich councillor wants to remove barriers to housing for pet owners

Motion calling for province to amend lease stipulations against pet ownership defeated in 5-4 vote

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read