A church in the Rural Municipality of Hanover is reaching out to the public for help in paying its pandemic fine.
Earlier this month, Church of God Restoration along Highway 12 was ordered to pay a fine for repeatedly breaking public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The church received numerous tickets for continuing to hold in-person services at a time when health officials in our province mandated against large gatherings. On at least one occasion, RCMP were stationed outside the church, issuing tickets on a Sunday morning, when more than the allowed limit of individuals was seen inside the church building.
In June of 2021, the province identified the Church of God Restoration as a repeat offender. At the time, the province noted that the courts would determine what fine would be imposed on this church. According to the province, the maximum penalty would be $1 million.
Earlier this month, a judge decided that the Church of God Restoration would be fined $30,000. According to the judge, the church has seven years to pay off the fine.
Steinbachonline.com has since learned that a public campaign has been started where individuals can help pay off this fine. The campaign through GiveSendGo has a goal of collecting $74,561. As of Monday afternoon, $780 had been donated.
"We were recently charged in court for our decision to live out our faith and remain open during the lockdowns," says Church of God Restoration on the GiveSendGo site. "Many have expressed a desire to show their support and we have decided to make this available to those who wish to show their solidarity. We are very thankful for all the friends we have made in these difficult years."
Meanwhile, Tobias Tissen, Pastor of Church of God Restoration, was also recently fined for his actions during the pandemic. According to the Manitoba Courts, Tissen was charged on December 19, 2021, for failing to comply with a condition placed on entry into Canada.
In an online video, Tissen explains that he was coming home from a church conference in Mexico that December evening when he was told he needed to take a COVID-19 test at the Winnipeg Airport. Tissen says he left the airport without taking the test and eight months later was fined. Then, on January 20th of this year, Tissen was found guilty of the incident and ordered to pay $4,275.