Manitoba public health orders have divided a lot of families, including church families, according to a local pastor.
Pastor Erik Parker wrote a blog post on Sunday calling on Springs Church to stop fighting the province on coronavirus public health measures.
Springs lost a court battle Saturday to host its drive-in services, which have been recently banned out of concerns around spreading COVID-19.
Parker says he’s been watching the debate unfolding on social media and needed to take a stand on his website, The Millennial Pastor.
“I think one of the most troubling aspects is that it might be technically correct that drive-in services are fairly low-risk, but they aren’t zero risk, which is why the province is telling us not to gather,” he said.
“And the attitude that is being portrayed by Springs is that our needs, our sense of loss, our concerns come before those who are sick, those who are dying, our public health leaders and health workers asking us to stop gathering.”
Springs Church has been handed more than $32,000 in fines for holding drive-in church services, which are currently barred under level red restrictions, set to expire on Dec. 11.
After the court ruling Saturday, the church cancelled its drive-in services and moved everything online.
Parker says he doesn’t understand why the church took the battle to court.
“It can look insensitive to be insisting on worshipping together when there are people dying and so many grieving families,” he said.
“If staying home and worshipping online can save lives, then it’s an easy decision to make.”
Parker says he’s shocked that about 75,000 people read the letter after one day, but it seems it’s struck a chord with many.
“Ultimately, the call of Christians is to love one another and love the world and care for the world the best we can, and so I think fighting for your rights to worship, when gatherings are only suspended for a temporary amount of time, and we can still worship online, it comes across as selfish, to me, when we can endure this brief lockdown and gathering at a time that’s right,” he said.
Global News has reached out over email and on the phone to Springs Church and pastor Leon Fontaine for an interview but has not heard back.
Parker doesn’t expect Fontaine to respond to him but he challenged the church to apologize and redirect its legal fees to charities instead.
On Sunday a church in Manitoba did breach public health orders and held a drive-in service.
A couple of dozen cars flocked to the parking lot of the Church of God Restoration south of Steinbach Sunday morning, getting the church and pastor additional fines.
“Often the megaphone of Christianity ends up with a particular kind of church that’s giving one type of message,” Parker said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that Christianity crosses borders. A lot of it comes from Christians in the States, particularly with a particular brand of Trump supporter or folks who are politicizing the pandemic and that stuff crosses borders easily in the age of social media.
“Jesus was someone who healed, someone who looked after the lost and down troughed and looked after the most vulnerable among us, which is what COVID-19 is doing — affecting the vulnerable, people in care homes, the homeless and First Nations. These are people that are vulnerable in our province and community. We can do our part to stay home and worship at home.”View link »