Churches in Manitoba hold first events after public health order changes
Springs Church in Winnipeg holds a drive-in service on Dec. 13, 2020, the first one under revised public health orders (CTV News Photo Rachel CrowSpreadingWings).
WINNIPEG -- After a court challenge and tens of thousands of dollars in fines, Manitoba churches can now hold drive-in events.
Complete with on-site security, Springs Church held another drive-in service Sunday, this time legally.
The church held multiple services in Winnipeg last month, was fined more than $32,000, and was found to be breaking public health orders by a judge on Dec. 5.
Now, revised public health orders, which came into effect on Dec. 12, allow for drive-in church services. Anyone in a vehicle must be from one household only, and they are not allowed to leave their vehicle while at the event.
Pastor Bruce Martin at Calvary Temple said the church is continuing to hold services online.
He said he’s happy to learn churches can hold drive-in services, but said following the teachings of the church is really about building community.
“It’s not a building, or a parking lot, it is people, and in whatever way you can get people to connect with The Lord and with each other, so let it be.” Pastor Martin.
Even though not everyone has access to the internet on the weekend, he said, for the most part, holding church services online allows most of his congregation to steadily attend church.“I had a person say to me, ‘Pastor, before this pandemic, I was sort of hit and miss with my church attendance, and now I never miss,’” Martin said.
Mary LeMaître attends a different online service and she says she enjoys it.
“At a drive-in you can see the people parked around you. You see the people whose car is to the side, but if you have Zoom, you can see everybody and you can actually talk to them,” said LeMaître.
She said she does miss being around her church group and understands others do as well.
“You have relationships with people, your faith is interwoven into all of that and so there’s a part that’s missing when you can’t gather on a weekly basis right,” said LeMaître.
She said besides the pandemic, winter has arrived in Manitoba, and it is safer to stay home.
“The one thing about doing drive-in stuff is you stay in your car, and it’s winter, so you have to have the heat going,” said LeMaître. “It’s using a lot of gas.”
When asked how the province is enforcing health restrictions at drive-in services, a spokesperson said they work with many enforcement partners, and any information about the past week’s enforcement activities is shared on Tuesday.
CTV News reached out to Springs Church for comment on their security measures and if they ensured no left their vehicle but received no response.
Manitoba RCMP said they have no information on how enforcement was handled for churches that hosted drive-in services on Sunday.