Damien Dupont, visiting the Free Grace Baptist Church for an in-person service, during a time when there is a ban on gatherings, speaks to a television news crew outside the church on Dec. 13, 2020. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Damien Dupont, visiting the Free Grace Baptist Church for an in-person service, during a time when there is a ban on gatherings, speaks to a television news crew outside the church on Dec. 13, 2020. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

3 Chilliwack churches could face charges for defying pandemic ban on in-person gatherings

Chilliwack RCMP began with awareness campaign but have now recommended charges for gatherings

At least two churches in Chilliwack continued to defy provincial health orders this Sunday.

The Chilliwack Free Reformed Church, just north of the Vedder overpass, held its 9:30 a.m. service, and the Free Grace Baptist Church held its 11 a.m. service.

Neither of the churches’ parking lots were overly full, and both churches do stream their sermons live for those who prefer to watch from home. But both have also kept their sanctuaries open for their congregants who prefer to worship in person.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, Chilliwack RCMP announced that they are recommending charges against three unnamed churches.

“We have submitted reports with regards to the violation involving in-person congregations from last weekend,” said Sgt. Krista Vrolyk with the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment. “We’re seeking BC Prosecution Service charge assessment.”

A ban on gatherings, including for worship, went into effect on Nov. 19. A church in Langley has also been holding in-person services and has already received fines for doing so.

There was a CTV news crew on site at the Free Baptist Reform Church prior to their 11 a.m. service. They spoke with a man, Damien Dupont. on camera who said it was not his regular church. He also told them that the media is being “disingenuous” about COVID-19, and that people are “dying with COVID, not of COVID.”

The reverends at both churches have spoken to The Progress to defend their decision to hold services despite public health orders.

READ MORE: RCMP submit reports to BC Prosecution Service after three Chilliwack churches continue in-person worship


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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