Dozens of church officials sign open letter urging Winnipeg church to apologize

WINNIPEG — Dozens of church officials have signed an open letter urging a Winnipeg church to apologize for “putting (its) individual right to worship ahead of the good of our community.”

The letter, written by Sherwood Park Lutheran Church’s Rev. Erik Parker and signed by more than 50 clergy members, was penned in response to Springs Church’s drive-in services.

CTV News Winnipeg previously reported Springs Church was fined $5,000 for holding a drive-in service on Nov. 26. The church then received 10 more tickets on Nov. 28 and 29, totalling $32,776, for holding more services.

On Dec. 5, Manitoba’s Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, Glenn Joyal, ruled that a drive-in service is a public gathering and violates public health orders.

The letter from the church officials, which is dated Dec. 6, says Springs Church’s actions are “not an example of following Christ.”

“We find that your insistence on the right to worship is not in keeping with Christ’s command to love our neighbour,” it says.

“We find that your actions disregard the dangers of COVID-19 in our community and that they only serve to create potential harm for our healthcare system and healthcare workers already pushed beyond capacity.”

The letter goes on to recommend Springs Church take the following courses of action:

  • Repent its actions and publicly apologize; and
  • Cease legal action against the province and redirect the money, intended for legal costs, towards a charity;

“If and when these actions are undertaken, it would be our hope that they be a first step towards reconciliation between Springs and your sibling communities of faith in Manitoba,” the letter says.

Kevin Williams, the church’s lawyer, told CTV News Winnipeg the church believes in COVID-19 and isn’t associated with anti-maskers.

Over the weekend, Springs Church said in a press release that it’s asking its community to follow the rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For now, this means not coming to Springs for a drive-in service this Saturday or Sunday,” it says. 

“Being good citizens means respecting laws.”

CTV News Winnipeg has reached out to Springs Church for comment.

– With files from CTV’s Mike Arsenault and Mason DePatie.

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