Around Town: Welcome!, COVID-19 law challenge, Langley threat, Ward Gasque

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Carmen Louie has greeted tens of thousands of customers at Donald’s Market over the years. Photo submitted by her for CBC interview.

One highlight over the Christmas break was a CBC Radio interview with Carmen Louie, manager and cashier at Donald’s Market on Hastings Street near Nanaimo.

Her welcoming, outgoing, no-nonsense, Christian approach to a challenging job was very refreshing.

The Current host Catherine Cullen spoke to Louie December 31. Here is part of their conversation:

Catherine Cullen: What has the impact been on you? How have you felt about the fact that you have had to have all these arguments [about requiring face masks] with your customers? There seems to be a lot of conflict around it.

Carmen Louie: Catherine, I’m at the door. I pray. I say, Lord would you give me wisdom to handle these people, you know what to say. What impacts me is sometimes, like my husband says, do not take from work to home.

CC: Don’t bring your work home with you.

CL: You hear those things that they say to you; it’s a negative thing. The only thing you can do now is that you have to be positive, you have to be gentle, you have to be compassionate answering those things to them. But I would head to home and I’m so glad I have a husband who listens; he’s probably so tired listening to me every day I come home. . . .

CC: I’d just like to close by asking you, what is the number one thing that you would like people in your community and your customers to know heading into 2021?

CL: Some of them are fearful still with this. I’d like them not to be fearful, not to worry, because like they said, the vaccine is already out there. . . . I said, we are here for you; we are there for them. I mean, every day, and it’s to serve them. And I mean, for me, I just serve them with a smile. Like, ‘What does it make you so happy for, with all this Covid going on?’ I said you just have to be grateful for what we have. ‘You’d be grateful for this pandemic?’ I said, well, how do you answer that? I just smile.

Go here for the full interview, in both audio and transcript formats.

Louie is well known in East Vancouver, and not only by Donald’s customers. She has been featured before on CBC, and in the Georgia Straight.

A 2011 article in the Vancouver Courier included this:

Louie has memorized more than 7,000 of Donald’s customer’s names in the nearly eight years she’s worked at the grocery store [nine years later it’s closer to 11,000] on East Hastings near Nanaimo. “My pastor said it’s not work any more, it’s more like a vocation,” Louie said. “I said Amen, brother.”

In March 2004, a customer asked Louie how many shoppers’ names she knew. She recorded all the names she could recall on her lunch break and counted 32. “Then I said maybe I should set a goal.”

She aimed for 100 names by April, 200 names by May, and 300 names by June. She saw how much joy feeling known gave her customers and carried on with the project. “In the beginning, I [studied] maybe five hours a week, or more,” Louie said. . . .

The Hastings-Sunrise resident, who also works at the nearby CIBC bank, teaches Sunday school and serves lunch to seniors at the Burnaby North Baptist Church, said her connection with Jesus feeds her joy. “I come to work, I pray, I say Lord bless me today and let me shine for you, for these people.”

Go here for the full article.

Legal challenge
Billing itself as “a voice for freedom in Canada’s courtrooms,” the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has challenged some of BC’s pandemic-related restrictions.
In a January 8 release they said:

The Justice Centre has filed a legal challenge in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against restrictions on public protest and worship services resulting from Public Health Orders issued by BC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The Justice Centre represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities who have been issued multiple tickets of up to $2,300 for allegedly violating the Orders while exercising their Charter freedoms. . . .

Further, since November 19, 2020, in-person worship services have been completely prohibited, regardless of the extra safety measures implemented by faith communities. . . .

Although support groups are permitted to meet, the Orders prohibit faith communities from gathering for any “worship or other religious service.”

These severe measures are being imposed on members of the religious community, while the BC government allows hundreds of people to gather at any given time in a single big box store. The government allows residents to gather and seat six at a table at bars and restaurants. In contrast, British Columbia tells citizens: “Do not attend a service at a church, synagogue, mosque, gurdwara, temple or other places of worship.”

The Petition challenges that the Orders on the basis that they unjustifiably violate the rights and freedoms of BC residents protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including,

    • section 2(a) (freedom of conscience and religion);
    • section 2(b) (freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression);
    • section 2(c) (freedom of peaceful assembly);
    • section 2(d) (freedom of association);
    • section 7 (life, liberty and security of the person); and
    • section 15(1) (equality rights).

The Petition also challenges the Orders on the basis that they are unreasonable and exceed Dr. Bonnie Henry’s authority as Provincial Health Officer.

“The undemocratic Orders of Dr. Bonnie Henry restricting and even outright prohibiting the exercise of citizens’ fundamental freedoms display a disregard of Canada’s constitutional protections,” notes Marty Moore, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre. “This court challenge will require the BC government to answer for these divisive and discriminatory orders.”

The Justice Centre has retained West Vancouver lawyer Paul Jaffe to lead the legal case against the BC government. . . .

Go here for the full statement.

Legal threat

Township of Langley Councillor Kim Richter.

Township of Langley councillor Kim Richter is quite unhappy with churches that are not abiding with the provincial health order against worship gatherings, and is demanding sanctions.

Here is a portion of a January 12 CBC News article by Meera Bains:

Churches in the Township of Langley could lose property tax grants after being fined for breaking COVID-19 rules if a local councillor succeeds with a motion presented to council this week.

 “I’m angry that I’m paying extra taxes to subsidize these organizations,” said Township of Langley Coun. Kim Richter. . . .

She said the Riverside Calvary Church in the Township of Langley has been getting the exemption since 2014. However, the church has been fined $4,600 recently for violating COVID-19 rules.

“The organization in question that’s been fined twice now is estimated to receive a 2021 tax exemption of $13,700,” pointed out Richter.

According to the BC government’s website, places of worship are automatically eligible for property tax exemptions through the provincial government. Local governments have the authority to exempt eligible properties from other property taxation for a specified period of time.

Marty Moore, a barrister and solicitor with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Calgary, has been reviewing the public health orders in B.C. In a written statement to CBC News, he said the Township of Langley council’s motion violates faith communities’ charter right of religious freedom. [Note ‘Legal challenge’ story above.]

Go here for the full story.

Tribute to Ward Gasque

Ward Gasque was a founder of Regent College.

Ward Gasque passed away late last year following a long and distinguished career as a theologian, both locally and around North America. He was always supportive of ecumenical work, as I discovered when I met him several times over the years.

Regent College posted a tribute to Ward and his work:

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of W. Ward Gasque, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Regent College and a long-respected scholar on the Acts of the Apostles. Ward died in Vancouver on December 29, 2020. He was 81 years old.

Ward was a founding member of Regent’s faculty, teaching New Testament at the College for 22 years. As unofficial Dean of the College’s inaugural summer school, he oversaw Regent’s very first academic offerings, also serving as its original Registrar and, later, the first E. Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies.

James M. Houston, the College’s founding Principal, recalls, “Ward was our first recruit in the founding of Regent, hired to travel widely to mobilize interest in Regent’s summer schools, even before the one-year diploma. He was pivotal to its founding.”

Ward was a gifted teacher, leading a range of courses in New Testament studies. He pioneered Regent’s Marketplace courses, encouraging students to consider how thoughtful biblical scholarship could impact daily life and work.

Regent President Jeff Greenman reflected, “Ward was a tireless champion of the emerging vision of biblically serious, intellectually rigorous and truly holistic theological education for the whole people of God.”

His commitment to the laity dovetailed with his wife Laurel’s passionate advocacy for theology and the arts, and together they had a profound influence on the College’s commitment to lay education and integrative theology.

Serving both scholarly and popular audiences, Ward’s publications include A History of the Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (1989) and Sir William M. Ramsay: Archaeologist and New Testament Scholar (1966). Ward served as Editor for the New International Bible Commentary and contributed numerous articles to the Biographical Dictionary of EvangelicalsHistorical Handbook of Major Biblical InterpretersThe Anchor Bible DictionaryNew Dictionary of TheologyThe International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, as well as a wide range of journals. Ward served as an Editor at Large for Christianity Today and for Regent’s quarterly journal, CRUX. . . .

Longtime friend and colleague Carl Armerding, former Principal of Regent College, wrote upon Ward’s death, “It was Ward who encouraged not just the early Vancouver committee, but people around the world, to capture a vision that would someday become Regent. His work will follow him as long as Regent continues.”

Ward is survived by his wife, Laurel, and their daughter, Michelle.

Go here for the full reflection.

January 8, 2021

Vancouver 24/7 Week of Prayer – January 8, 2021 - January 15, 2021 at All Day

January 10, 2021

24/7 Week of Prayer - UBC – January 10, 2021 - January 17, 2021 at All Day

January 14, 2021

Live Webinar: Explore Alpha Online – January 14, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
SIM: Discerning Your Call in Life – January 14, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

January 16, 2021

Brave Love Canada National Zoom Event – January 16, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Open Doors Canada: Release of 2021 World Watch List – January 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

January 18, 2021

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – January 18, 2021 - January 25, 2021 at All Day

January 19, 2021

Advance Summit: Do the Work of an Evangelist! – January 19, 2021 - January 20, 2021 at 8:30 am - 2:00 pm
National Alpha Kick-off – January 19, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Men's Ministry Leadership Training 101 – January 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

January 20, 2021

Ending Poverty Together Online Workshop – January 20, 2021 at 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Carmen Joy Imes: Reading the Bible Right Now – January 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
ELO Webinar: Jesus on Economics & Entrepreneurship – An Interview with Jerry Bowyer – January 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Men's Ministry Leadership Training 102 – January 20, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Webinar: Online Sexually Explicit Material and Pornhub – January 20, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

January 21, 2021

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Joint Prayer Service – Archdiocese of Vancouver / First Baptist Church – January 21, 2021 at 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
An Evening with Dr. Joel Thiessen: The Millennial Mosaic – January 21, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

January 23, 2021

Comagape Christian Conference 2021 – January 23, 2021 at 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

January 24, 2021

Just 58: Trapped in Transition (documentary focused on community, refugees & Lebanon) – – January 24, 2021 at 7:15 pm - 8:13 pm

January 26, 2021

Alpha Youth Leader Gathering – January 26, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Missional Commons Webinar: Thriving Through the Pandemic? – January 26, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
The Church after Covid: Allowing the Spirit to Re-orient us around the Mission of God – January 26, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

January 27, 2021

Alpha Webinar: Don’t Give Up – With Dr. Charles Price, Dr. Darrell Johnson, and Dr. Laurel Buckingham – January 27, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Book Launch: Better Than Brunch – Missional Churches in Cascadia – January 27, 2021 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Paul Allen on Critical Realism – January 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
A Table for All Workshop – January 27, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

January 28, 2021

Tish Harrison Warren: Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep – January 28, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
A Table for All Workshop – January 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Mission Central: SERVE – Pre-Conference Prayer Night – January 28, 2021 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

January 29, 2021

Human Flourishing in a Technological World: Robert Doede – The West's Journey from Living Selves to Software Selves – January 29, 2021 at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Mission Central SERVE: Youth and Young Adult Rally – January 29, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Reading Fratelli Tutti: Pope Francis’ Vision of Fraternity and Social Friendship – January 29, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

January 30, 2021

2021 Mission Central Conference: SERVE – January 30, 2021 - January 31, 2021 at 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Summit 2021: 'Conversion Therapy,' Conversion and the Gospel of Grace – January 30, 2021 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
SIM: What is Poverty? What does that look like in Canada? – January 30, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

February 2, 2021

JustWork presents Groundhog Day Trivia – February 2, 2021 at 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 3, 2021

A Panel on Human Trafficking – February 3, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Bill C-6 Webinar: Bans on Conversion (Conversation) Therapy – February 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

February 5, 2021

Canada Chinese Christian Winter Conference – February 5, 2021 - February 7, 2021 at All Day
G. Peter Kaye Lectures: Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism – February 5, 2021 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Being Human in a Technological World: John Behr – Pointers from Patristic Anthropology – February 5, 2021 at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

February 6, 2021

Catalyze for the Climate 2021: Virtual Conference – February 6, 2021 at 9:30 am - 11:30 am

February 7, 2021

Virtual Book Launch Party: Wonderfully Made by Esther Leung-Kong – February 7, 2021 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
A Literary Expedition into 'The Abolition of Man' – February 7, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

February 8, 2021

Food Security in the time of COVID-19: an IDW Panel – February 8, 2021 at 8:00 am - 9:30 am

February 9, 2021

Andy Crouch: Building for the Future in the Context of Lament – Navigating and Implementing Organizational Change – February 9, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
6 Principles to Navigate Revelation, with Dr. Darrell Johnston – February 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm

February 10, 2021

Alpha Webinar: The Time is Now – with Vijay Krishnan and Nicky Gumbel – February 10, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
TWU Live: Bringing Campus to You – February 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

February 11, 2021

David's Crown: An Evening with Malcolm Guite on the Psalms – February 11, 2021 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
SIM: Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities – February 11, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

February 12, 2021

Jens Zimmerman – Who Am I? Personhood, Technology and Human Flourishing – February 12, 2021 at 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm

February 13, 2021

David Baird: The Power of Civility – February 13, 2021 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

February 18, 2021

The Goodness of Creation and Human Responsibility – February 18, 2021 - February 20, 2021 at All Day
The Southern Cross: Navigating New Horizons in 21st Century Global Evangelicalism – February 18, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Canada, the Churches, & Bill C-15 – February 18, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Trinity Western University and the Court of Public Opinion: A Closer Look at the Role of Religion in Society – February 18, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

February 19, 2021

Business As Mission Virtual Conference 2021 – February 19, 2021 at 9:30 am - 1:30 pm
Mission Central Conference: GROW – February 19, 2021 - February 20, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 5:30 pm

February 20, 2021

Coldest Night of the Year: Several Events – February 20, 2021 at All Day

February 21, 2021

A Literary Expedition into 'The Abolition of Man' – February 21, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

February 22, 2021

Tax Clinic – February 22, 2021 at All Day
Keeping Up the Pressure: The Role of Faith Communities in COP26 – February 22, 2021 at 8:00 am - 9:00 am
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day Webinar – February 22, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am

February 24, 2021

Lisa Marie Bowens: Reading the Bible Right Now – February 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

February 25, 2021

The Global Leadership Summit: Special Edition – February 25, 2021 at 8:30 am - 11:45 am
Earthkeepers: Climate-themed Lent Prayer Night – February 25, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
SIM: What Do Missionaries Do? And Why? – February 25, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Communities of Welcome for Refugee Claimants: Discovery Meeting – February 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

February 26, 2021

Empowering Temporary Foreign Workers during COVID-19 – February 26, 2021 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Thomas Fuchs: Embodied Cognition and Psychiatry in a Technological World – February 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Mission Central Conference: CREATE – February 26, 2021 - February 27, 2021 at 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Black History Month with Marcus Mosely: Songs of Freedom – February 26, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

February 27, 2021

CHAT Canada Webinar, with Sandi Smoker: The Art of Grandparenting (bi-weekly, Saturday mornings) – February 27, 2021 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

February 28, 2021

Just 58: Journeying with Justice – February 28, 2021 at 7:15 pm - 8:13 pm

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