Springs Church is asking its congregants to follow provincial health orders, petition their elected officials, love one another, and pray after a court denied its request for a stay to allow drive-in church services Saturday.
In a video released Saturday, Springs Church lead pastor Leon Fontaine responded to the court's decision by asking Springs congregants to follow the laws currently in place while assisting the church in finding ways to change them.
"The heart of Springs Church has always been a desire to love and better our community," Fontaine says. "While this year has brought new challenges for us, this commitment remains."
The pastor says COVID-19 one major challenge for the church community.
"Which is why we've complied with every public health measure that the Government of Manitoba has set upon us," Fontaine says.
"The Government of Manitoba has made rules around what gatherings can and can't happen during COVID-19. Today, the Chief Justice interpreted these rules to me that we cannot hold drive-in church services, even if everyone stays in their cars with the windows rolled up."
Fontaine noted Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal's concerns over infringements on Canadian Charter rights imposed by COVID-19 restrictions. On Saturday, Joyal ruled these concerns would need to be addressed through more formal and thorough courtroom proceedings at a later date.
In his ruling Saturday, Joyal stated Springs Church did not meet the extremely high requirements for a stay to be granted to allow drive-in services while the province is under Code Red COVID-19 restrictions. The judge says the church did not prove irreparable harm would be suffered without drive-in services, and the public interest in holding drive-in services did not outweigh the public interest in maintaining public health orders.
Fontaine asks members of the Springs congregation to follow Manitoba's public health orders, including not attending Springs Church for drive-in services over the weekend.
"Being a good citizen means respecting laws," Fontaine says.
Fontaine also requests congregants "respectfully contact" their respective elected politicians, something he says Springs will assist people with over the next few days.
"It is my opinion that there is an opportunity here to enhance the rules around gatherings so that drive-in church services and other innovative solutions can continue to safely occur because the right to practice faith during these challenging times is vital.
"I know that with the united voice of our community, regardless of faith, that we can show our elected politicians that they can innovate; keep COVID-19 measures in place while looking for ways to safely bolster the safety of our community and protect Canadian Charter rights," Fontaine says.
Fontaine then asks viewers to "love one another.
"We know our community is desperately struggling with the effects of fear, isolation, and job loss that endless COVID-19 lockdowns have brought," he says.
"Now more than ever, we need to pray for each other ... and take the time to virtually reach out and make sure we're all well."
Finally, Fontaine asks for prayer for Springs as they "decide the next steps on this journey."
The pastor says the church has "strategies" and will be offering more information to congregants in the coming days.
"We're not done yet. Springs Church is a welcoming, accepting place. We are proud to unite in love for our community and for our province," Fontaine says.