To the leadership of Springs Church,
On Friday May 21st, Springs Church has [AGAIN] garnered a lot of social media attention and sparked [outrage] in our city and province regarding [BLATANT VIOLATIONS] of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions implemented by public health authorities.
Much of the rhetoric coming from Springs church centres on the right of Christians to worship under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You have [PREVIOUSLY] claimed that your drive-in services are safe and your right to gather in-person to worship outweighs the Province of Manitoba’s right to restrict gatherings for the sake of public health.
But the photos of the recent indoor, maskless graduation celebration from Springs College reveal a complete disregard of public health orders and the incredibly serious situation in our province’s ICUs.
Your actions during the past days of disobeying public health orders in the name of freedom are not an example of following Christ.
Your insistence on the right to [GATHER] is not in keeping with Christ’s command to love our neighbour.
Your actions disregard the dangers of COVID-19 in our community and that they only serve to create [EVEN MORE] potential harm for our healthcare system and healthcare workers already pushed beyond capacity.
Your insistence on individual freedoms over collective responsibility are an affront to the many individuals, families, friends, community groups and other faith communities who are refraining from gathering for the sake of our neighbours.
Your focus on your own perceived loss (of not being able to gather for a short time) to be offensive to the MORE THAN 1000 Manitobans who have died and their families who have lost loved ones as a result of this pandemic.
Therefore you are called upon to take the following actions:
That you repent of your actions and publicly apologize for putting your individual right to [GATHER] ahead of the good of our community.
That you publicly encourage your church members to remain at home while public health restrictions remain in place.
If and when these actions are undertaken, it would be our hope that they be a first step towards reconciliation between Springs and your sibling communities of faith in Manitoba.
Finally, knowing that we are not the first people of faith to live through a pandemic, we offer you [AGAIN] the following quote from Martin Luther, written in 1527, about how Christians ought to respond to the Black Death:
Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid persons and places where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.
*This letter also applies to any congregation refusing to follow public health orders under the guise of religious persecution *
Yours in Christ
The Rev. Erik Parker
Note: The previous letter invited signatories to add their names, whereas with this letter I did not specifically invite other clergy to add names. Many have indicated a desire to sign this letter as well, but certainly not all.