One local church decided to host its 9th anniversary with a '9 fruits of the Spirit' theme while keeping socially distanced.

The congregation of Heart of Worship International Church in Winnipeg is usually around one hundred and fifty people. Since COVID hit, they've decided to have a registration for in-person Church services in following the guideline of having only fifty people or less gathering inside.  

"Every Sunday, we recite the fruit of the spirit before the message. This year, coincidently, being our ninth anniversary, there are nine fruits of the spirit," says Edward Buller, also known as Pastor Ed. 

Buller has been leading this church for the past 8 years. 

He says, "We are still in our infancy. We rent from a wonderful church called Emmanuel Lutheran Church on King Edward. We've been kind of nomadic. We started in an Elementary School cafeteria, then moved to a large sanctuary on Portage and now we're in the right size. It's kind of like the three bears."

Where they meet doesn't seem to matter to this group, as they were eager to put on an event in celebration of their time together this past Sunday. 

Buller says, "The Spirit was there for sure, and it was just muted by numbers."

The pastor decided to make the best of the situation. They had fifty people inside and one hundred outside. 

"As a group that is very family-oriented in the Philippino church, an anniversary or celebration is an 'in-demand' event."

Buller was pleasantly surprised at his congregation's attitude as the registration filled up within a few hours with people wanting to celebrate.

"We had people, as soon as they realized that the celebration was full, instead of getting upset, we had people giving up their spots. That kind of selfless fruit of the spirit was such a powerful ministry."

The group was thankful that even though rain was in the forecast that day, it held off. That way the extra hundred people outside didn't have to miss out on the celebration. 

"Everyone wears masks, there is social distancing, certain pews are taped off, we put family groups together or have two meters between people," says Buller.

To start the festivities, the group inside had their regular church service, then they joined the rest outside to pray and celebrate.

In the meantime, the food that was brought in the morning as potluck was packaged into Bento boxes in their sanitized kitchen. It was passed out and families sat outside in lawn chairs and ate. 

"These celebrations are also about intimacy and COVID kind of robs you of a little bit of that precious intimacy. But we weren't missing the community."