Around Town: Covid change?, Women & Families Centre, Extreme Weather . . .

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix presenting a COVID-19 update November 1. Government of BC photo

Be prepared for changes to provincial guidelines for worship services.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix held a telephone town hall with about 120 religious leaders Wednesday afternoon (November 10).

While they were clear no change of directions is yet confirmed, and that they were consulting the participants in good faith, they did raise the possibility of tightening the rules.

“We want to ask for your counsel, your guidance, your advice,” said Dix, adding that while there are some positive signs, this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated and vulnerable, and some of its strains are now more potent.

He said there has been “some increase of transmission and outbreaks in faith communities” over the past few weeks, especially in cases where some people are unvaccinated and some are not wearing masks.

Dr. Henry said, “I am very concerned as we head into the celebrations [Hanukkah, Christmas] that are coming up. We are in a very challenging place right now.” She said some faith groups are seeking more direction from the government, while others are tired of the restrictions we still have.

Under current guidelines, worship services are exempt from the provincial mask mandate and the requirement to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Erin Knott, Assistant District Superintendent (Executive Administration and Governance) for the Canadian Pacific District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, emailed me:

My gleanings were that Dr. Henry and Adrian Dix were looking for input from faith leaders on ways to harmonize the orders regarding masks and vaccination proof. Dr. Henry has proposed making masks mandatory in faith settings and either requiring vaccination proof to attend services or allowing mixed groups (vaccinated/unvaccinated) to attend with capacity limits in place to ensure greater social distancing.

I got the sense that there wasn’t much pushback to making masks mandatory, but that requiring vaccination proof would not be welcomed by the majority of faith organizations and that it would be a significant point of contention and possibly division.

Another participant was Kathy Smith, Stated Clerk, Classis BC Northwest of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. She sent notes out to fellow CRC leaders, including these responses from several pastors on the call:

  • Drive-through and parking lot options become less ideal during the fall/winter. Therefore, okay with a mask mandate, and fewer people. Not a vaccination requirement (will cause division).
  • If make vaccinations mandatory for churches, leaves three options: leave the ministry, don’t follow it or have to turn people away. None of which this pastor wants to do. Rather see churches not gather at all than turn people away. Masks and social distancing okay.
  • Recommend that guidelines include: bare minimum, and then optional things to do to enhance safety.
  • In favour of vaccine passport requirements for worship services. We should be the same as everyone else. And online is now an option. Also, some not attending because of unvaccinated participation, so they might then come. Also supports a mask mandate.
  • Cannot canonically turn people away from services or sacraments, so speak against vaccine mandate, in favour of mask mandate and capacity limits.
  • Against a vaccine mandate. Okay with mask mandate and capacity limits.
  • Against a vaccine mandate. Encourage province to soften its approach and make guidelines voluntary rather than mandated, as mandates encourage pushback.
  • No vaccine mandate. Willing to do everything they can to work with other restrictions, e.g., capacity limits and masks, in order to minister to people in their communities.

Both Dr. Henry and Dix were clearly taking comments seriously and seemed weighed down by the decisions facing them. Dr. Henry was quite emotional as the conversation came to a close. Several of the leaders wished them well, commended them for their hard work on the issues and said they are praying for them – which both Dr. Henry and Adrian Dix said they appreciate.

UGM Women & Families Centre

Sandra Pronteau, who used to come to UGM for meals and shelter, now works there at the Sanctuary program. UGM photo

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) celebrated its new Women & Families Centre with a virtual opening event October 28:

For Sandra Pronteau, there is a sense of optimism when she thinks about Union Gospel Mission’s new Women & Families Centre. There was a time in her life when she needed a space like this.

“I wish they had this when I was a young mom. I probably would have used it,” Sandra, whose recovery journey eventually led to her becoming a UGM staffer, says. “I know when I see some of these girls come in, I see a little bit of me in them.”

The 77,000 square foot Women & Families Centre, complete with 63 housing units, will change the trajectory of entire families for generations – fewer women and children on the street, fewer children living below the poverty line, and a future where families can thrive instead of struggling to survive.

The Sanctuary, a unique supportive recovery program designed specifically for women and operated through a Wraparound Model of Care, including continuing aftercare support for the program’s alumna, will also operate out of the building.

“I’m most excited about being able to provide a culturally aware and trauma-informed environment for women and children for up to a five year continuum of care, where they can feel accepted, seen, known and enjoy relationships and support as they walk on this journey of becoming,” says Tara MacDonald, Senior Manager of Women’s Recovery & Housing.

This new building would not have been possible without the support of all three levels of government, including the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BC Housing and the Ministry of Children and Families, and the City of Vancouver, as well as many foundations, businesses and individuals including Streetohome.

Go here for the full UGM media statement.

Extreme Weather Shelters

Tenth Church is an Extreme Weather Shelter.

The provincial government funds Homelessness Services Association of BC (HSABC) to oversee the Extreme Weather Response Program in Vancouver and Surrey.

The Extreme Weather Response (EWR) program is a provincially funded initiative that supports community-based services to provide additional temporary emergency shelter spaces during periods of extreme winter weather which threaten the health and safety of individuals experiencing homelessness.

This program is designed to provide time-limited, weather responsive, temporary shelter spaces in communities where there is not sufficient emergency shelter bed capacity during extreme weather conditions.

The expected outcomes of the EWR program are decreased health and safety risks to homeless people during periods of extreme winter weather, and a reduction of street homelessness during extreme winter weather.

HSABC staff identify and liaise with community service providers and faith-based organizations to secure shelter beds and determine weather thresholds for activation.

Six of the 12 Extreme Weather Shelters are in churches; they have been open since earlier this month.

October 27, 2021

Meeting by Light: An Exhibit by Jocelyn Worster – October 27, 2021 - November 17, 2021 at All Day

November 12, 2021

Dr. Hillary McBride: Instagram introduction to 'The Wisdom of Your Body' – November 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Come Explore the Indigenous Atlas of Canada – November 12, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Friday Night Talks @ L'Abri: Andy Patton, What Do We Do with Richard Rohr? – November 12, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

November 13, 2021

Mapping The Ground We Stand On – November 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cantonese Webinar: Post-Pandemic Financial Management / Job Market – November 13, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 4:15 pm
Blues Hoodoo – November 13, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

November 16, 2021

The Connected Generation: A Canadian Conversation – November 16, 2021 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
The Missional Network: Fall 2021 Workshop Series – November 16, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am

November 17, 2021

Four Visions: Outside Looking In – November 17, 2021 - December 12, 2021 at All Day
WiP Seminar: Dr. Scott Kline – Neighbours Saving Neighbours – November 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Journey Canada: 30 Years of Hope – November 17, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Theology Symposium: The Many and the One, by ACTS Seminaries – November 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Nick Apivor & Friends – November 17, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm

November 18, 2021

ADVOKATE: Celebrate Life Gala – November 18, 2021 at 7:00 am - 8:30 am
Brian Bird: The Struggle for Tolerance – November 18, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Congregational Flourishing: EFC Book Club with Joel Thiessen – November 18, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Music at PT: Jenny Banai – November 18, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

November 19, 2021

Restore 2021 – November 19, 2021 at 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Come Explore the Indigenous Atlas of Canada – November 19, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Friday Night Talks @ L'Abri: Clarke Scheibe, The Failure of Liberalism to Fight Totalitarianism – November 19, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Music at PT: Cheryl Bear – November 19, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Wild Blue Herons – November 19, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

November 20, 2021

CSB Iron Sharpens Iron National Men’s Conference: Workout with Ryan Walter – November 20, 2021 at 8:30 am - 10:30 am
Christmas Bazaar – November 20, 2021 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Share the Light Online Conference – November 20, 2021 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Indian Residential Schools: A New Awakening in Canadian Consciousness, with Sister Marie Zarowny – November 20, 2021 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

November 22, 2021

Explore the Indigenous Atlas of Canada – November 22, 2021 - November 26, 2021 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

November 23, 2021

Canadian Nationwide Prayer Event – November 23, 2021 at 8:00 am - 9:30 am
Church Planting with Alpha – November 23, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am

November 24, 2021

Spiritual Care Series: Pathways to Meaningful Ageing – November 24, 2021 at 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: The Possibilities Band – November 24, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm

November 25, 2021

Run Alpha Q & A – November 25, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Jordan Peterson: Sic et Non, with Ron Dart – November 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

November 26, 2021

Palimpsest – November 26, 2021 - November 27, 2021 at All Day
Annual Christmas Crafts and Lunch – November 26, 2021 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
NightShift Gala 2021 – November 26, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Friday Night Talks @ L'Abri: Daniel McDougall, on Food – November 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Neil Osborne – November 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

November 27, 2021

Emotion-Focused Family Therapy Caregiver Workshop – November 27, 2021 - November 28, 2021 at 8:30 am - 1:30 pm
Christmas Bazaar – November 27, 2021 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Holiday Craft Fair – November 27, 2021 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
St. John's Christmas Fair – November 27, 2021 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Holly Berry Fair – November 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
10th Annual Christmas Jazz Concert – November 27, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

November 29, 2021

Discovery Project – November 29, 2021 at 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Dennis Venema Book Launch: Evangelicals & Science Skepticism: Can Philosophy Help? – November 29, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

November 30, 2021

ELO National Forum 2021 – November 30, 2021 at 9:00 am - 2:35 pm

December 1, 2021

Advent Prayer Week – December 1, 2021 - December 8, 2021 at All Day
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Conrad Good & Friends – December 1, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm

December 2, 2021

First Christmas Interactive Experience – December 2, 2021 - December 12, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
BC One Heart Call to Prayer – December 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Chasing the Light: A Himalayan Life Fundraising Event – December 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Hans Boersma: Five Theses on Bible Reading – December 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Opening Reception: 'Held in the Now' by Fiona Moes Pel – December 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Sanctuary's Virtual Christmas Gala: In My Shoes – December 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

December 3, 2021

Friday Night Talks @ L'Abri: Liz Snell, On the Novels of Marilynne Robinson – December 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Really Good Christians – They Go at Easter and Christmas: Understanding Occasional Religious Practice – December 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

December 4, 2021

A Rocha Market Christmas Open House (including carolling) – December 4, 2021 at 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Christmas Bazaar – December 4, 2021 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Christmas Market – December 4, 2021 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
St George's 113th Annual ACW Bazaar – December 4, 2021 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
St. Stephen's Christmas Market – December 4, 2021 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Book Signing: God's Firestarters – December 4, 2021 at 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Mission Central Fundraiser – December 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 5, 2021

St. Anne's Holiday Bazaar – December 5, 2021 at 11:30 am - 2:00 pm

December 8, 2021

Chasing the Light: A Himalayan Life Fundraising Event – December 8, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Christmas Presence – December 8, 2021 - December 22, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Triology – December 8, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm

December 9, 2021

Integrity: Fighting the Evil of Corruption – December 9, 2021 at 6:00 am - 8:00 am
Conversations with . . . Wanda Fost: Connecting Rest and Generosity – December 9, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

December 11, 2021

Christmas at Tenth, with Ron Reed & Michael Hart (4 events) – December 11, 2021 - December 12, 2021 at All Day
Join Theo Bessem, Andrew Marcus, Joe Mettle and Naomi Owobowale for a Night of Worship – December 11, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

December 15, 2021

Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: We Three Queens – December 15, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm

December 17, 2021

Christmas with Chor Leoni (six shows) – December 17, 2021 - December 20, 2021 at All Day
Carols in the City – December 17, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

December 18, 2021

Christmas Tales (two shows) – December 18, 2021 at All Day
North Shore Community Christmas Dinner (volunteer opportunities) – December 18, 2021 at All Day

December 19, 2021

Christmas Caroling Event – December 19, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

December 22, 2021

Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Ilhan Saferali & Friends – December 22, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm
Share this story

6 comments for “Around Town: Covid change?, Women & Families Centre, Extreme Weather . . .

  1. Please read Archbishop Vigano’s letters. The government does not have our families best interests at heart. This is a dark time in history and the devil has many faces. Please read everything you can about the vaccine; it’s not necessary and will never stop if you submit. They are now trying to convince you to take the third dose while trying to convince those with none that the first one will work. Please use your brain.

  2. Are these still the same 120 religious leaders being consulted? We have still not been able to find out whether any Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox Christians have ever been consulted at any time during the pandemic. Due to our varied ethnic and administrative differences, we constitute a larger group than may be apparent.

    Due to background of many under communist or other oppressive regimes, many Orthodox are very resistant to any kind of government interference with our worship. If any religious group should be consulted, Orthodox should be included.

    • Hi Donna:

      I’ve been on several of these calls (not all). While I have never seen a list of participants, the range of religions represented has been very wide, with various Christian groups as well as Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and other leaders. So I would be surprised if no Orthodox representatives have been involved.

      You could contact Naveen Girn, who represents the provincial government on these matters:


      • Thank you for the reference Flyn – my husband sent a letter earlier this year but had no reply. None of the other Orthodox clergy in the area he was able to contact at that time had been included in any of those consultations either.

  3. While appreciative of news on yet another inside session of faith leaders and the health authorities, I am suspicious. It continues to feel that given the length of the pandemic and the plethora of regulations, with an occasional loosening here and there, it is not for long. Why give up the reins of power once under one’s control, I wonder?

    Do any Church for Vancouver readers actually know anyone who died from the virus, and especially since the vaccines? I know of only one over the 21 months of it being declared a public health emergency (and she had pre-existing health conditions). None, since the double vaccine mandate.

    Worship services will continue whether underground, outside under canopies, in the middle of the night, in tunnels or caves and thankfully, the word of the Lord will withstand any and all attempts to muzzle, suppress and/or undue control measures. Mind us, it remains a fierce challenge if, and as, persons refuse vaccination.

    In the always destabilizing peace of Christ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.