Loosening restrictions and warmer weather are putting Manitobans in happy moods. This week saw random acts of kindness and acts of encouragement warming up the smiles.

MMF publishes letter commending Winnipeg police chief

he organization representing Metis people in Manitoba is commending Winnipeg's Chief of Police for "defending and protecting the integrity and character of the police service."

In a letter published by the Winnipeg Free Press and posted to their website Saturday, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) commended the work of Chief Danny Smythe of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

In addition to their commendation of Smythe, the letter thanked the WPS for their "continued dedication to the people."

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'Special song:' Zach Williams reflects on 5 Grammy nominations and 'There Was Jesus'

Zach Williams has been nominated for a Grammy five times and he still can't believe it.

The Christian artist called it "pretty crazy" to be preparing for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards as a nominee for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.

In an interview with CBN News' Studio 5 earlier this month, Williams explained the significant meaning behind his song "There Was Jesus."

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Christian Grammy winners

Following a six-week delay, the 2021 Grammy awards were handed out Sunday evening. 

On Sunday, March 14, the Grammy awards were presented in a socially distanced, indoor/outdoor ceremony hosted by Trevor Noah. 

This year's list of names in the Christian categories included some names not often seen there. Both Kanye West and Dolly Parton picked up awards.

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Lauren Daigle partnering with charities for 'Hold On To Me' video

One of Christian music's biggest names is using her newest music video to raise money for a long list of charities.

Lauren Daigle's Hold On To Me will be raising funds with her charity, The Price Fund, for several causes. Her 60s-inspired video uses rooms to highlight different causes.

"It doesn't just stop at being a visually stunning piece, it goes beyond that," Daigle says in a video. "We are setting up something really interesting how to tell each one of these room's stories."

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Gospel Group The Erwins thrilled with being nominated for Grammy

A Southern gospel group made up of siblings is happy to "give God all the glory" for their Grammy nomination for Best Roots Gospel Album.

The Erwins are made up of Keith, Kody, Kris, and Katie Erwin, three brothers and a sister, all in the 20s. Performing is something they grew up doing, as their parents have served as full-time evangelists for more than 40 years.

This is their first Grammy nomination for their album What Christmas Really Means, but they did take home a Dove Award last year.

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Seeing hope spring up in the North End

While violent crimes have recently made headlines, people working with youth are also seeing creativity and community come together in the William Whyte area of Winnipeg.

Shaunna Goode is the William Whyte Community Director at Youth for Christ. However, Goode doesn't just work in the area, she lives and breathes there, impacting the community from the roots up. 

"The best way I could describe this position is to be on the frontlines loving people in the community and connecting with people. Working together to bring about God's good in the neighbourhood," she says.

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Local restaurant chain finding unique way to host groups under restrictions

The Smitty's Family Restaurant owner is finding a unique way to offer a restaurant experience to people living in different households while maintaining 2 meters of distance. 

"We try to think outside the box. In this case, there were five different couples, so we needed five different tables that were six feet apart, that all wanted to watch a Jets game," says Valerie Funk, the owner of six Smitty's in the Winnipeg area with her husband, Brian. 

Most of the restaurants they own offer a private room or area back when big groups needed a place to gather and have a meal.

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Bethel Music singer releases single bringing joy to listeners

Dante Bowe, a worship leader with Bethel Music, is happy to release his latest positivity-filled single, 'Joyful'.

"‘joyful’ is a breath of fresh air at a time when we all need it. Joy is so different than happiness. While happiness is that temporary feeling created by circumstance, joy isn’t based on anything other than truth," Bowe tells The Christian Beat.

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Church in Nigeria confirms the release of pastor threatened with execution

Church leaders have confirmed reports that Islamic terrorists who threatened to execute a pastor they abducted on Christmas Eve in northeast Nigeria freed him on Wednesday, March 3.

The president of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN), Joel S. Billi, told church leaders on Thursday (March 4) that he had spoken to Pastor Bulus Yakura (also transliterated as Bulus Yikura) after he was freed, according to a notice posted on Friday (March 5) on the website of the Church of the Brethren’s U.S. headquarters by Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media.

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Church looking to return blessed statue to former glory

Tucked away in the corner of a North End church, a statue created by a world-famous artist and blessed by the Pope is sitting untouched but deeply loved.

In 2019, the statue of St. Volodymyr, standing outside of Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga was decapitated, no small feat for a bronze statue.

"In the middle of the night, people came and they viciously attacked the statue, cutting off its head and then came back on another night and took the cross on the piece of the staff," says Bennie Gusnowsky, the leader of the fundraiser for the restoration of the statue.

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New Dead Sea Scroll fragments discovered

A large archaeological operation in Israel has uncovered new ancient pieces of Scripture, along with other exciting finds.

The Israel Antiquities Authority says that they have been working at the site on the cliffs of the Judean Desert since 2017. The project was undertaken in order to prevent thieves from looting the site, which is a common practice.

On Tuesday, the Antiquities Authority unveiled their discoveries.

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Alberta pastor to be released from custody, most charges dropped

An Albertan pastor who has been in custody for a month after violating public health orders is set to be released from custody, with all but one of the charges brought against him being dropped.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) says that Crown Prosecutors agreed to drop most of the charges against James Coates of GraceLife Church near Edmonton. The JCCF says he will be released from jail in the coming days, without any conditions, pending his May 3-5 trial in Provincial Court.

"The Justice Centre will defend Pastor Coates on one remaining charge of violating an Order of the Chief Medical Officer of Health by challenging the lawfulness of the public health order that he is charged with violating," the JCCF says in a release.

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Like father, like son: Golden West President passes on torch

Years after promising to one day be the President of Golden West, a man from southern Manitoba has now taken on that role.

On Wednesday, Lyndon Friesen of Steinbach announced his retirement from his position as President but will be staying on as Advisor to his son Carter Friesen, who will become the next President and Chief Operating Officer of Golden West.

Lyndon began his career with the company 45 years ago, when it had only three radio stations.

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Family celebrates Christmas in March after extended hospital stay

A family who has been stuck in the hospital now for over two and a half months was finally able to celebrate Christmas at home this past weekend.

Since mid-December, Cari-Lynn Thiessen had been in hospital with her daughter, Hallie, as medical professionals attempted to resolve the young girl’s ongoing digestive issues and other related complications.

“We just got home on Friday, which was why Christmas only happened now,” she laughs, “the same weekend as time change!”

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Update: Manitoba likely moving out of Red, gathering sizes could be increasing

Major changes could be coming to Manitoba's COVID-19 response.

Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin are sharing COVID-19 updates. Manitoba could be moving to Orange: Restricted on the Pandemic Response System but Roussin says they want to know if the public wants the changes to occur before or after Easter, as the current orders expire on Thursday, March 25. This also falls at the start of Passover. 

"I have said and I will continue to say that the future is in all of our hands," Pallister says in a Thursday press conference. 

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Local artist releasing new single, 'Author & Finisher'

Arielle Jodine is sharing her newest single all about this past year being a bit of a detour, but also part of God's plan.

'Author & Finisher' is available on all platforms on March 19, 2021. 

"It was about a month into that first quarantine round, probably April of last year, and I'm sitting with the Lord, journalling and I felt like life was on pause," she says. 

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WSO excited to reconnect musicans and audiences

One of Winnipeg's top players in the arts is excited to welcome guests back at the Centennial Concert Hall. 

Trudy Schroeder, the Executive Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) is anticipating an "overwhelming feeling of profound relief" the moment she can sink into one of the thousands of red chairs for the first in-person concert of 2021.

"There is something profoundly different about having live music with a live audience," Schroeder says. "The way we breathe together when we are sitting together and listening to music together, and music just hits us in a really special or energizing or moving way."

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'We must speak out against skyrocketing anti-Asian racism': Asian American Christians speak out

Asian American Christians in the United States are calling churches to call out “the sin of racism” after a young man who was a member of a Baptist church killed eight people in Atlanta earlier this week.

Pastor and anti-poverty activist Eugene Cho said: “We mourn the lives of these eight - many of them Asian women. We pray for their families. As we grieve, we must continue to stand up and speak out against skyrocketing anti-Asian racism and violence.”

Raymond Chang, President of the Asian American Christian Collaborative (AACC), published an article in Religion News, specifically addressing Christian leaders: “Call out racism whenever it rears its ugly head.

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Conference brings connection and encouragement to children's ministry leaders

This year the Awesome Kidmin Conference went online without a hitch, uplifting people in kids ministry. 

Noami Lorenzin is new to the Awesome Kidmin Conference planning team as marketing coordinator. 

"It was so fantastic. A lot of people were really encouraged to start new friendships and feel the connection with other people in kids ministry," says Lorenzin.

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Volunteers spreading love, positivity in Winnipeg

Peg City Kindness Crew is finding ways to show love to their communities.

What started as a desire to help has become a large undertaking for Jai Siwak and her co-founder. After losing her travel agent job to the pandemic, Siwak began helping her friends in need, but the outward movement did not begin until she saw a Facebook post.

"It started as two of us who were just trying to do good things and help people out. There was a teacher on a buy-nothing Facebook group who was trying to feed her students who didn't have food at their homes and the breakfast program got shut down."

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'Child care is not a luxury - it’s a necessity': early education gets $4.4 million top up

A new grant is set to support 230 regulated, non-profit early learning and child-care facilities in Manitoba to help them recover from the pandemic's economic hit.

Canada's Special Representative for the Prairies, the Honourable Jim Carr, joined Manitoba's Families Minister Rochelle Squires in a Friday press conference to share information on new funding for child care.

"There is no part of the country that the COVID-19 pandemic has left unscathed," Carr says. "We know parents are worried about providing for their children, keeping food on the table, and making it through this difficult time."

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Tauren Wells announces new collab with H.E.R.

Christian artist Tauren Wells has teamed up with four-time Grammy winner H.E.R. to bring a new song to your speakers.

"This was hard to keep to myself...but y’all fiiiiiinally get to hear an incredible song by an incredible, once-in-a-generation artist, that I was HONORED to be a part of!!," Wells shared in a post on his Instagram.

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LISTEN: Colton Dixon lets new single fly

After a bit of a dry spell, Colton Dixon fans are getting some new music from the Christian artist.

On Friday, Dixon released his new single, "Made to Fly." The release was announced on Dixon's Instagram.

"'Made To Fly' is out now!," Dixon writes.

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'This is my community:' National ministry leader responds to anti-Asian hate

In response to the recent increase in anti-Asian hate violence, a national ministry is speaking out.

In a Facebook post made Saturday, Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) executive director Jennifer Lau says the growing attacks against racialized communities in recent years have left behind feelings of outrage, anger, and fear.

Noting the recent rise in hatred directed towards the Asian community in North America, Lau says she cannot remain silent.

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