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Opinion: Burnaby church cancels Christmas event rather than enforce vaccine mandate

Church says it might lead to 'unnecessary division'.

I was contacted recently by a few members of a Burnaby church who were upset at the cancellation of some Christmas events at their place of worship.

I’m not naming the church because my point isn’t to criticize anyone, but to merely highlight the struggles many are going through to deal with COVID-19 restrictions.

According to a post on the church’s website, it’s allowed to hold Sunday worship in compliance with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s health orders, but events like Christmas banquets and productions can’t be held unless the church ensures that all who enter have their B.C. vaccine card.

And for that reason, this church has cancelled the events.

According to the post on the church’s website, “We do not think it benefits the witness of Jesus’ calling in our lives and our world to take a stance on vaccination which might lead to unnecessary division.”

The church also confirms that it hasn’t taken a stance for or against vaccinations.

This has caused some consternation with the church. It had already sold tickets for a Christmas event that is now happening. The hard work of a lot of the people who planned it has now gone for nothing.

One parishioner who wrote me was upset that the church wouldn’t enforce the mandate. Another was upset with health officials for making the church have to enforce the mandate in order to hold such events.

Personally, I would have liked to see this church follow the advice of public health officials. Vaccinations are making a huge difference in dealing with COVID-19. The overall goal is to protect lives. But, I can see the frustration at the mixed messaging from health officials. They can worship unvaccinated but can’t go to a different church event.  

Meanwhile, B.C. has identified its first case of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in a case linked to a resident in Fraser Health region who recently visited Nigeria.

Vaccines used in Canada, such as those produced by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., were designed to take aim at the novel coronavirus’ spike protein. It remains unclear how effective these vaccines will be on the new strain.

“Equal access to vaccination is something that’s going to be important for us to get through this,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

“Until everyone in the global community has the ability to be vaccinated and has the same protections we do, we are still all at risk.”

This comes as B.C. is embarking on a booster shot campaign at the same time about 57% of the global population of 7.9 billion people have yet to receive two doses.

B.C.’s current approach is focused on those who are at the highest risk, such as older people or those who received their first and second doses at shorter intervals.

“I don’t think it will change,” Henry said, when asked about whether B.C.’s booster campaign will be adjusted in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“It really is a bit too early to say.”

  • With files from Tyler Orton, Glacier Media

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.