A few different churches are weighing in on what the past year has been like for them coming out of the pandemic, as well as what they're looking forward to in 2023.
Freedom House Church
Derrick Moodley is the pastor at Freedom House, a church in the inner city of Winnipeg.
"It's been an interesting 2022," says Moodley. "We resumed our services in February this year. By July we were running at full speed with all our programs again."
Freedom House is run a little differently than most churches as the congregation is filled with many people that are on assistance or experience homelessness. Therefore the tithing cannot sustain the day-to-day activities of the church.
"During COVID we lost 60 per cent of our funding. Beginning of the year it was tight for us, it still is. Everybody is trying to rebuild and we're feeling the effects of that. Not all of our volunteers have come back as well."
A positive this year is many people in the community have become regulars.
"We did water baptisms in July and we have another eight people wanting to get baptized. I think one of the things COVID has done is highlighted the need for Jesus."
For 2023, Freedom House is looking to connect with more partners in the community.
"We're starting off a series in January on the miraculous. This past year we spent a lot of time getting people deep into the word, reading the Bible. Next year is, how do we implement that word? God can use everyday people to perform miracles."
Cornerstone Alliance Church
Pastor Joel Black is the lead pastor at Cornerstone Alliance Church in Winnipeg.
"The past year has been quite good for our church," says Black. "Early in the year, I was given a three-month sabbatical so that was a great reprieve from the past two years. Most of the people have come back. We don't do things online anymore on Sunday mornings, it's only in person and we've found families are longing for that."
At Cornerstone Alliance, they have put in effect a sabbatical for the pastor every seven years, and this time it happened to land right after the pandemic.
"Studies show that longevity comes out of this. Pastors end up staying longer and they don't burn out. It's really helpful and healthy for the church because, during that time, people in our congregation were doing things they hadn't done before. I think it helps to embolden and empower people as well to do things."
Over the course of 2022, Black has seen God move in many ways, including people getting baptized.
"While this past year started off with restrictions, there are no restrictions for God. We've noticed that God is working even if it doesn't seem like He is and nothing can restrict Him."
For the year ahead, Black hopes that people will be more unified.
"I would like to see more cooperation or partnership with other kinds of churches. A lot of people are thinking about house churches because of the pandemic. I think this is a great time for established churches to partner with house churches. It's great for us to cross denominational lines and focus on essentials."
Sherwood Park Luthern Church
Reverend Erik Parker is the lead pastor at Sherwood Park Luthern Church in Transcona.
"It's been an interesting year for sure," says Parker. "It took us a couple months before we felt comfortable to go back to in-person services again. We've been steadily increasing the different things we've been doing. We started Zoom small groups that transitioned to hybrid small groups, so that was neat."
Sherwood Park has also started to incorporate more family events.
"Lutherans have an inner-city outreach meal program called The Urban. So different Lutheran congregations around the city will get meal teams to prepare, so we started that."
Parker says in general the attendance has slowed down significantly, except for major holidays and events. Sherwood Park has collaborated more with other Lutheran and Anglican ccongregations over the past year as well.
"We're talking about other ways we can share ministry together, work together, and even talking about sharing pastors with other congregations. It's exciting, you know, it's born out of some necessity, so exciting but challenging as well."
For the new year, Sherwood Park will be looking to expand their family and youth ministry in connection with other churches.
Joy Fountain Church
Pastor Andaza Hezekiah is the lead pastor at Joy Fountain Church, located at 106 Burnett Avenue in Winnipeg.
"Coming out of COVID with churches not being able to meet in person, I truly believe there is still a place for people to gather in person," says Hezekiah. "In the last year I've seen God be amazing. I had something I preached on that said that the church is indestructible. Why? Because it carries the life of God."
While Hezekiah found some members of his church moved on during the pandemic, others were looking for a church assembly to belong to.
"I'd say we're back at 70-80 per cent and we're thankful to God for that."
Hezekiah says as the team at Joy Fountain look to the new year, they are trusting God for the congregation to grow.
"So much is happening today in the world and people are concerned about what tomorrow holds. The encouragement is that people need God more. I always say if there's a new McDonald's opened because the population is growing, then there's need for churches to expand their capacity."