British Columbians turn to faith for support during Easter weekend changed by COVID-19

COVID-19 makes for very different celebration of Easter weekend
For people of many faiths, the COVID-19 pandemic is making for spring celebrations that are like nothing they've ever seen before. Nadia Stewart reports.

At Calvary Worship Centre in Surrey, senior pastor Sam Owusu says they are reaching more people than they used to before the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“People have been sending emails, they’ve been sending photos about how they’re celebrating with us,” Owusu said.

“We’re reaching more people than we used to and we’re getting people from all over the nations.”

READ MORE: Faith in isolation: How Canadians are praying during the coronavirus pandemic

Over the last several weeks, the inability to physically assemble due to measures intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 has left many in B.C. longing for community.

A new Angus Reid poll shows British Columbians — and Canadians as a whole — are connecting to faith-based groups for support.

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Angus Reid Institute executive director Shachi Kurl says people are praying more and relying more on technology to help keep their faith alive.

Coronavirus: Celebrating religious holidays during a pandemic
Coronavirus: Celebrating religious holidays during a pandemic

“One in five people in this country and about the same number in B.C. are saying either they themselves or a person close to them has been helped by a faith institution,” Kurl said.

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More than two million British Colombians identify as Christians, with Easter being a seminal holiday for the community.

Earlier this week, a Vancouver non-profit, City In Focus, released an open letter calling on Christians to unite in support and prayer for the community. The letter was signed by business leaders, including Jim Pattison and Paolo Aquilini, and more than 100 other community and faith leaders.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan meets with B.C. faith leaders over coronavirus concerns

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City In Focus president Tom Cooper says the pandemic is bringing about a deeper sense of faith and purpose for many who might have only seen Sunday morning service as a tradition.

“We get into the perfunctory habit of faith, but not the life and community and reality of faith. So, this withdrawing … might help clarify what we are grateful for and what we need,” Cooper said.

Multiple faiths change worship practices during COVID-19 pandemic
Multiple faiths change worship practices during COVID-19 pandemic

As churches pivot to meet pressing needs, Father Stanley Galvon at the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver hopes it will inspire people to see beyond their present circumstances.

“The pandemic is forcing us not to be indifferent to our own actions or the needs of other people or the idea that there is something bigger than ourselves,” he said.

Vancouver Christian leaders open letter April 8, 2020 by Sean Boynton on Scribd

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