Saskatchewan churches face financial uncertainty amid coronavirus pandemic

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan churches face financial uncertainty amid coronavirus pandemic' Saskatchewan churches face financial uncertainty amid coronavirus pandemic
WATCH: Churches are finding new ways for congregations to worship during the pandemic. In some cases engagement is up, but that doesn’t mean parishes aren’t struggling financially. Allison Bamford explains the new normal for religious institutions. – May 13, 2020

Saskatchewan churches are feeling the financial crunch as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to reverberate across the province.

“A number of churches are managing, but I’ve also heard of churches that have had to lay off staff and some that are even considering shutting down temporarily,” said Dennis Hendricksen, Christ Lutheran Church lead pastor in Regina.

Hendricksen said his church is still receiving offerings and donations either electronically or through the mail, but about 20 per cent less than usual.

However, expenses are down due to churches not being able to run their congregations because of social gathering restrictions caused by the pandemic, providing some relief.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Cancellation of Saskatchewan drive-in church service questioned

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“That has helped bridge the gap between the two,” said Robert Hardwick, a Diocese of Qu’Appelle bishop. The Diocese oversees more than 50 Anglican churches in southern Saskatchewan.

“We are holding our own; we are monitoring as a diocese to make sure everyone is in that place where they can afford to keep going,” Hardwick said.

Many churches are looking for more guidance from the province. Recently, more than 30 faith leaders across Saskatchewan sent a letter to the province asking for more direction as to when they will be allowed to reopen.

Member of Parliament for Regina-Wascana Michael Kram also sent a letter to the government looking for answers.

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“I was assuming it would be part of Phase 4 (in Saskatchewan’s re-open plan) when bingo halls and movie theatres are allowed to reopen, but as time went on and conversations continued there was some uncertainty with that assumption,” Kram said.

“I figured it would be prudent to send a letter to the premier to communicate my thoughts.”

READ MORE: Historic Battleford, Sask. church might not survive another decade

However, the province is allowing churches to reopen as they see fit.

“Churches were not ordered closed under the Provincial Health Order. Places of worship may continue to offer service but are subject to the restrictions on gathering size (currently limited to 10).  Some churches have voluntarily closed, but they are not required to do so,” the Saskatchewan government responded to Global News in an email.

“Many of Saskatchewan’s churches have adapted their service schedule to accommodate their congregation with multiple gatherings throughout the day, offering services throughout the week and are offering services online through tools that include Zoom or YouTube.

“Guidelines for drive-in services were provided as part of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan to support requests from places of worship who wish to serve a larger gathering of congregants by providing drive-in worship. They are currently allowed.”

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Click to play video: 'Group alleges church service cancellation violated charter rights' Group alleges church service cancellation violated charter rights
Group alleges church service cancellation violated charter rights – Apr 14, 2020

As the pandemic continues, many churches are trying to find ways to stay connected within their respective community.

The Diocese of Qu’Appelle recently matched $41,000 raised by Anglicans across the province which has been donated to various community groups.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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