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

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

Daryl Jolly co-founded the college’s digital arts program

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read