A Canadian church on Sunday defied provincial health restrictions and held a drive-in church service, one week after police interrupted a service by blocking the entrance to the parking lot.
The service at Church of God near Steinbach, Manitoba, lasted about 30 minutes, with attendees staying in their cars and the pastor, Tobias Tissen, holding a microphone and preaching, just outside the building. Attendees tuned to an FM frequency to hear the message.
Unlike the previous Sunday, police did not stop the service, although health officials issued $6,000 (Canadian) in fines to the church and Tissen, according to journalist Keean Beste, who attended the service. The fines are equal to about $4,700 in U.S. dollars.
Tissen, during his sermon, said the lockdown was hurting – not helping – public health.
“Public health is to allow humans to be human,” he said. “We are not virtual beings. We are human beings. We are not cattle that we need to be fenced in and controlled.”
The church was obeying God by defying the order, Tissen said.
“We are in devotion to Almighty God,” he said. “We are here to serve the Lord. This is our conviction. God has commanded us in the Bible that we should gather together. … If we ever needed to pull together as humanity, for the right cause, it is now.”
Under Manitoba’s current public health restrictions for Covid-19, houses of worship are prohibited from gathering in-person, even for a drive-in service. Gatherings of more than five individuals “at any indoor or outdoor public place” are also banned.
No attendees got out of their cars, Global News reported.
The church announced on Saturday it would defy the provincial health restrictions.
“Everyone is welcome to join us at our drive-in service tomorrow morning at 9:30,” the Facebook post said. “Please stay in your vehicles with your windows rolled up. Tune to 88.5 FM to listen in your vehicles. Let us pray for the leaders of our province tonight and ask God to bless our law enforcement officers and their families as they are directed to enforce unconstitutional, tyrannical orders.”
Photo courtesy: Haidan/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.