A nondenominational church based in Canada has been fined for the second time after violating a public health order prohibiting large gatherings in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Riverside Calvary Church of Langley, British Columbia, was issued a ticket on Sunday due to holding a large worship service, reportedly with attendants not wearing face masks.
Dena Fyfe, owner of the Buhf Beauty Boutique, which is based in the same strip mall as Riverside, told the Langley Advance Times that she reported the worship service to authorities.
“My parking lot was overflowing,” said Fyfe regarding the impact of the gathering, adding that it was “just blatantly obvious” that the church was disregarding multiple public health guidelines.
In addition to Riverside, nearly 20 churches near Langley are believed to be openly violating the public health orders limiting worship gatherings, according to Coast Mountain News.
The service was livestreamed and Riverside Assistant Pastor Randy Dyck focused on biblical prophecy in the modern day during his sermon.
“I never imagined that we would see the likes of something like this that we’ve experienced in 2020. I never imagined our world would look like this before the Rapture,” he stated. “But here we are.”
Dyck said “the virus is real” and also “can be very dangerous and potentially deadly for a small percentage of the population,” especially the elderly and those with preconditions.
He also discussed the vaccine, saying that he will not tell people whether or not they should take it, but that he himself was planning to wait once it becomes available.
“Please apply critical thinking to what is actually going on and seek news and information sources that haven’t been corrupted by a scripted government narrative of fear,” continued Dyck.
Riverside was first fined for refusing to adhere to a public health restriction on in-person worship last November, with members arguing that such limitations violated their rights.
At that time, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had suspended in-person faith-based gatherings as part of a broader effort to stop COVID-19 infections, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“This is probably ground zero for the churches standing up,” explained Riverside member Kari Simpson to the CBC at the time. “There is a movement afoot to ensure that more churches also start to defy Bonnie Henry's orders.”