Churches everywhere have adapted their services due to the pandemic and in Kelowna, it’s no different.
Despite a local church vocally refusing to cancel in-person services and receiving two $2,300 fines, a recent poll showed over 80 per cent of British Columbians agree with temporarily forbidding in-person services.
Two Kelowna churches in support of the restrictions showcased their position in an open letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Pastor Patricia Giannelia of Christ Lutheran Church says the idea came after a member of the clergy noticed a "nasty" comment on both Dr. Henry and Dix.
She says from the beginning of the pandemic there has been an open line of communication with the government and all denominations of religion, which is why it was important to speak up.
“That was the main thing about the letter to support, yes there’s a lot in the press about the churches that are defying things, we wanted to show, yes but the vast majority of churches are supporting."
“It’s important to say to our public health officials that they are doing a good job, that we appreciate what they’re doing and that we’re following what they’re doing,” said Brian Krushel, pastor at Faith Lutheran Church.
“Some of the news out there is such that there are those who aren’t. So I thought it was important to let our officials know and let our community know that there are others that doing what they can to keep the community safe.”
He says this isn’t about what they want, it is about caring for the community as a whole.
“Of course we’d like to be meeting on a regular basis like we normally do, but it’s a pandemic, and we can’t do that anymore so we have to adapt.”
At Faith Lutheran Church, they’ve moved their service to YouTube and have two tablets that Krushel uploads videos to so those who don’t have internet can still access the service.
He hand delivers the tablets and picks them up, rotating them between around eight people a week, which he says allowed him to connect with those in the community along the way.
At Christ Lutheran Church they’ve also gone online, but they also do phone check-ins. Giannelia creates a paper document with the upcoming weeks' services, prayers and literature that she sends in the mail or hand delivers. Small meetings of fewer that five, masked and typically outdoors, also allow keep some face-to-face interaction possible.
“We have over 80 homes probably that don’t have internet access so they will use this home resource,” she said, adding the number has decreased as people are learning to log-on virtually.
Both churches say they have heard from their community that online access has helped those who are typically unable to visit the church regularly a chance to worship more frequently and asked them to keep it going even after the pandemic.
Kelowna saw an example of COVID-19 transmission in a church setting back in October, prior to the restrictions, when an outbreak at the Kelowna Calvary Chapel resulted in seven cases.