A business owner under fire for reporting a Langley church that defied a provincial order against large gatherings is happy the church is speaking out against the harassment.
Dena Fyfe, owner of the Buhf Beauty Boutique located in the same building complex as the Riverside Calvary Church in the 9600-block of 201st Street, said she “appreciates” the comments.
Riverside Calvary lead pastor Brent Smith said church members were not involved in the online attacks and do not condone them.
“We are saddened Dena has been getting the negative backlash she has received for calling the police,” Smith told the Langley Advance Times.
“Those comments on social media have not come from our church or our members.”
Smith went on to say that it was “too bad she (Fyfe) didn’t talk with us before calling the police, but we’ve talked since all of this has happened and we’re doing what we can to work together and be a support to her.”
After Fyfe went public about filing complaints over Riverside holding in-person services, she was deluged with negative comments on social media, prank calls and people going on Facebook to give her business a one-star rating (the ratings were removed by Facebook after Fyfe complained).
That didn’t end when the pastor spoke out, Fyfe said on Saturday, Jan. 9.
“We‘re still getting negative reviews and prank calls,” Fyfe elaborated.
She is closing her business on Sundays, when the church holds services, “until all this blows over.”
Fyfe added she doesn’t regret contacting authorities about the church.
“I still stand by what I did,” Fyfe said.
“I’m not sorry, because I do care about our community.”
The first $2,300 fine against the Riverside Calvary church was levied after RCMP were called to the chapel on Sunday, Nov. 29, to investigate a report that in-person services were being held.
A second $2,300 ticket was issued against the church on Sunday, Jan. 3.
On Friday, Jan. 8, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) filed a challenge of the ban with the B.C. Supreme Court, seeking to dismiss tickets for alleged violations of the public health orders.
The Calgary-based organization said it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities.
In a news release, the centre said that while the government allows hundreds to gather in big-box stores, attending worship services has been prohibited despite groups going to extraordinary lengths to comply with the guidelines issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Allowing people to gather, it said, is essential for the spiritual and emotional well-being of many who go to churches, synagogues, mosques, temples or other places of worship.
“Affidavits have been filed attesting to the negative effect prohibiting in-person gatherings has had on individuals, including loneliness, depression, anxiety and fear.”
JCCF describes itself as a “public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity” that aims to “defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.”
JCCF went to court seeking a interim injunction against Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory mask-wearing, but the application was dismissed in December, with the judge ruling the restrictions can remain in place until a full hearing of the challenge is heard.