Churches in the Southern Health region are figuring out how to hold services this weekend in compliance with tougher restrictions that were announced only yesterday, leaving little time to adjust plans.

COVID-19 cases are climbing in all regions of the province, with the exception of Northern Health. The new restrictions target Southern Health, and were announced on Friday at a press conference with Dr. Brent Roussin and Health Minister Audrey Gordon.

Religious gatherings in the Southern Health region are now limited to 25 people if unvaccinated people are allowed. However, organizations will be allowed to divide their space to allow for physically-distanced cohorts. Roussin says that sites that are able to cohort will then be limited to 25 per cent capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people.

Blumenort Community Church will not hold in-person services this weekend, opting for online church. The church leadership says this will allow more time to make appropriate plans for in-person services that will comply with the new expectations.

Crossview Church in Steinbach has previously been using a church app and that will continue. People are required to pre-register for in-person services.

Pastor Kris Duerksen says this will make it easier to reduce the gathering size. The biggest challenge for them is regarding the children’s ministry.

He says they decided to cancel the children’s program for this weekend.

“Simply because we haven’t had enough time to figure out how we’re going to change our pick up and drop off procedures to comply with the new health orders – but we’re confident we can have our kids' ministries up and running again by next week,” he says.

Meanwhile, Pastor Duerksen expresses appreciation for the efforts of people in government and in the medical field.

“We are thankful that the government continues to allow us to meet, and for how they’re doing their best to keep us all safe,” he says. “Our prayers continue to be with all of the doctors and nurses and medical workers in our community who are working so hard right now to get us through the pandemic.”

In a post on their Facebook page, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Steinbach says they didn't have enough time to figure out an action plan and decided to cancel their weekend service.


Written by Judy Peters