St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s pastor, Roland Ziprick, joined 37 faith leaders across B.C. in signing a letter indicating their trust in the measures enacted, and work done so far, by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
The Maple Ridge reverend said he thought it was important to support the provincial leadership in this instance.
“It is a Christian duty to care for each other,” he said.
“So if that means that we have to avoid in-person work, and avoid contact indoors with our parishioners, members of the church, our neighbours and even our own families – in order to ensure our own safety – then we feel that is our Christian imperative to do so.”
Ziprick noted the church’s founder, Martin Luther, went through a similar situation, referring to the bubonic plague which swept through Europe in 1527.
He said while Luther would make a point of aiding the ill, he would avoid places where his presence was not needed, to make sure he was not responsible for spreading the disease.
The pastor also mentioned Luther’s thoughts on government.
“He believed that we as Christians live in two kingdoms,” Ziprick said.
In 1523, Luther published a treatise on secular authority, in which he stated God rules the earth through both secular and church governance.
“Luther thought God gives us the gift of secular authority to ensure our safety, well being and order,” Ziprick said, “So in our current time it makes sense for us to pay attention to what our secular leaders say.”
Other churches in the Lower Mainland have openly violated the provincial orders to ban gatherings.
“We have been deeply disappointed in the multiple times that the voices of a particular group of faith leaders have been spotlighted and amplified publicly criticizing your work and your mandates,” the letter reads.
“As you are already aware, those voices do not speak for all of us.”
Like many parishes, St. Paul’s has had to change a lot during the pandemic.
They hold a Sunday morning service in their chapel, which is broadcast via Zoom to their parishioners and then posted onto YouTube.
“We’re more online and digitally active than we’ve ever been,” Ziprick said, noting a segment of the church’s congregation have benefited.
“It has allowed some of our shut-in parishioners to join in on Sunday morning worship,” he said.
“And they are absolutely delighted, now that they’re able to log-in and be a part to the service.”
Even those who don’t have computers have been calling in, and listening to the service over their phones.
“They love it,” Ziprick said.
“They’ve got their hymn books with them so they can sing along.”
The church is doing the best it can under the circumstances, the pastor explained.
‘We’re adapting, and learning, and trying our best to maintain a sense of community with the blessings and gifts of technology that we have.”