Over the weekend, hundreds of cars flocked to Springs Church in Winnipeg for drive-in services.
The church held four weekend services, ignoring public health orders that specify that church services need to be done virtually only, and that drive-in options aren’t allowed.
This move from the province has brought with it a wave of questions from churchgoers.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the message has been clear — people need to stay home when they can.
“We know there are a lot of things that are very important to people, but we’ve heard from our health care providers, we’ve seen the numbers, so we are asking Manitobans for a relatively short period of time to take these steps to stay home and limit any type of gatherings,” he said at Monday’s COVID-19 press briefing.
“Are people going to be in their car? Is that all household people in there? Does anyone need to use their washroom during this time? There are risks involved with it.”
The province hasn’t revealed if Springs Church, or anyone who attended this weekend’s services, are facing fines. Those details will be made public on Tuesday.
Tim Sanderson has been going to Springs Church for 26 years and he is baffled the province isn’t allowing drive-in services under the new public health orders.
“I’m not into risking people’s safety but again, this is a platform which has been provided that we believe is perfectly safe right now for this time and the government is saying, ‘no, it’s not,’ and we want to know why. Furthermore, we want to say we’re not happy with this and hopefully, that makes a change and a difference,” he said.
“We’ve provided the province with something they previously have said is perfectly safe and now they’re saying it’s not. That’s something I and a lot of other people see as a massive problem.”
Sanderson attended the 10:45 a.m. Sunday service this past weekend and he says the rules are strict when you park in the church’s lot — you can’t get out of your car.
“When you arrive at a drive-in service, you come in your vehicle, you stay in your vehicle, you can’t exit your vehicle, your windows have to be rolled up all the way, and you’re ushered in by an attendant and at the end, you’re ushered out,” he said.
Over the weekend, Transcona city councillor Shawn Nason was interviewed on 680 CJOB and questioned why a church with such a massive social media following would need to break public health orders and not just offer virtual services.
Sanderson says members like himself believe the drive-in platform allows them to have an outlet to see their community.
“That’s something in the Christian community people have asked too, ‘Why don’t you be quiet and stay in your house — your PJs are quite comfortable to watch church — and just sit there and ride out the pandemic and eventually you’ll be able to go back to church,'” he said. “The question, in my opinion, is not whether can we do that, but rather, should we and should we be forced to do so?”
“It’s a sense of community, just seeing people and seeing people’s faces. Just getting out for a drive to do something. If you can provide a safe way to do so, why not?”
Global News has emailed and called Springs Church for comment and has not heard back from church officials.