B.C. churches welcome in-person gatherings

Religious services allowed again under Stage 3 plan

July 14, 2021 | News | Volume 25 Issue 15
Amy Rinner Waddell | B.C. Correspondent
Crossroads Community Church, which meets at Cottonwood Cinemas in Chilliwack, B.C., began resuming unlimited in-person services on July 4, one of many B.C. congregations anticipating a summer of return to normalcy. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Community Church)

Following the recent move to Stage 3 of the provincial Covid Restart Plan, some Mennonite Church B.C. congregations are gladly worshipping in person once again.

In a letter to member congregations, MC B.C. chair Gerry Grunau wrote: “On June 29, [B.C. Provincial Health Officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that all provincial health order restrictions pertaining to religious worship services are being removed effective July 1. There will be no limit on congregational attendance at worship services. Restrictions on singing have been removed. COVID-19 safety plans will be replaced with the expectation of following a more general communicable disease prevention plan, which includes the encouragement that those who are sick should plan to stay home.”

Grunau added that this includes lifting the mask mandate while no proof of vaccination is needed. Masks are still recommended in public indoor settings for all persons 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.

Members of Level Ground Mennonite Church of Abbotsford had been taking turns worshipping in person on alternate Sundays with pre-registration required. Pastor Andrew Haak explained to his congregation that with the new regulations, “As our congregation again makes adjustments, we want to remain diligent and discerning, graciously hold space for those who are excited to return to ‘normal times’ and also for those who are not ready to return at such a fast rate.”

Level Ground will no longer have attendance limits or health-check questions at the door, and it looks forward to resuming singing, while recognizing that all members may not feel comfortable yet with close physical contact.

Peace Mennonite Church of Richmond welcomed worshippers on its Facebook page by posting: “The doors are wide open; no signups, no capacity limits,” adding, “There’ll be singing, there’ll be socializing, and there’s a place for you!”

Sherbrooke Mennonite in Vancouver has recently been meeting in person every other Sunday. It has maintained its Zoom link, as well, while meeting in person, and the attendees on Zoom can be seen on the screen during the sharing and sermon reflection times. On the Sundays when congregants don’t meet in person, services continue to be fully on Zoom.

Cedar Valley Church in Mission has begun worshipping in person, with the goal of “being fully re-engaged with weekly live worship services with online broadcasted services beginning in the fall.” This summer, live worship-band services are planned for July 25 and August 29.

As Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack resumed worship services the first week in July, church leadership stated: “We are excited and grateful for the new opportunities we have in church [we can sing together], but we also encourage you to continue to be respectful and mindful of each other. We are all at different levels of comfort as the restrictions ease, and we want to make sure that we continue to work at serving one another by giving each other space and grace when we are meeting together.”

Grunau’s message to the regional church concluded with this statement: “MC B.C. wishes your congregation many blessings as you resume in-person worship services with your congregation. May God’s comfort and guidance be with you throughout the summer as you embrace the love and grace of fellowship and communion with each other.”

Crossroads Community Church, which meets at Cottonwood Cinemas in Chilliwack, B.C., began resuming unlimited in-person services on July 4, one of many B.C. congregations anticipating a summer of return to normalcy. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Community Church)

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