Manitoba church breaks health restrictions on Easter Sunday
MORDEN -- Many churches across Manitoba are finding creative alternatives to celebrate Easter, but not all are adhering to public health restrictions.
On Sunday morning in Morden, Man., Easter hymns were echoing from the Christian Church of Morden.
In a now-deleted post online, the church told parishioners it was breaking health orders to hold a full Easter service.
"After many thoughts, prayers and according to our understanding of the bible, we came to the conclusion that we can no longer obey the Manitoba health orders. Livestream services are no substitute for in-person gatherings," read part of the church's two-page statement.
Morden Mayor Brandon Burley said it's discouraging to see people not following the rules.
"Obviously, it's a big disappointment to our community and to ourselves personally, especially to happen on an Easter Sunday," he said.
CTV News reached out to the Christian Church of Morden, but it declined to comment.
Burley said Morden police would be investigating the matter on Monday.
"We have to make sure we bring about the best possible result here, which of course has to be compliance because there is no alternative for the well-being of the public," Burley said.
Burley claims the church is not representative of the whole city -- a sentiment echoed by some residents.
"I feel it's wrong to not be in compliance with the COVID regulations that are currently in effect. I think it's just a detriment to Morden and the surrounding area," said Jeff McIntosh, who drove by the church to see how big the crowd was.
"I guess some churches have this attitude that they are above the law, but most of them are law-abiding and try to go by the rules," said Ken Giesbrecht, who lives in Morden.
One of the churches that followed guidelines in the city was St. Thomas Anglican Church. The parish hosted a physically distanced service that was under the province's 25 per cent capacity cap, as well as some extra Easter events.
"I thought, let's have a parade! The kids learned about Easter, what the real meaning of Jesus dying and rising back from the dead is. Then they came out and decorated vehicles," said Diane Guilford, reverend of the church.
Guilford said planning a COVID-19 safe service is difficult, especially for larger churches.
"It takes a lot of work, more work, for those churches that have many more people to accommodate and go by the guidelines," she said.
As for the larger churches, Burley hopes there won't be any further breaking of health restrictions.
“I understand the COVID fatigue, but we are so close to the finish line," said Burley. "I would ask them very respectfully and graciously to follow the health orders."