'We will be able to celebrate together': Saskatoon churches prepare for Easter services
Last year, churches were forced to cancel services at churches over Easter weekend due to the province's public health orders. This year, parishioners are allowed to gather for the sacred holiday.
“We are starting with in-person services for the first time in about five months. We have a good Friday Service at 10:30 a.m. and then Sunday morning Easter service at 10 a.m.,” said co-pastor of the Mount Royal Mennonite Church Gareth Ewert Fisher.
The province's public health guidelines limit seating capacity to 30 per cent of a place of worship occupancy or 150 people, whichever is lower. Pastor Fisher said he is looking forward to seeing some of his regular churchgoers he has been unable to interact with in-person.
“We expect around 100 folks or so will meet safely under government guidelines and so on will be masked, but we will be able to celebrate together” Fisher told CTV News.
Fisher said he hopes his in-person services deliver some hope to some people who might need it.
“We’ll we’ve heard a lot of stories of isolation and loneliness, and there’s been real loss and even death, even within our own congregation. But we know that’s not the final work, we believe the final work is hope in Jesus Christ,” said Fisher.
Another pastor of a congregation in Saskatoon feels his church can provide some much-needed help.
“Church should be essential,” said Pastor at Haven Baptiste Church Carl Dornn. “You look at the suicide rates, way up, you know depression way up. Many people are struggling spiritually. They need help.”
Carl Dornn has services planned for 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday. He said he is grateful for the opportunity to assemble with those who attend Haven Baptiste Church.
“I’m thankful for being in Saskatchewan and I’m thankful for Premier Moe, and Mayor Charlie Clark that they have allowed the most openings for church,” said Dornn.
The province does have a message regarding places of worship heading into Easter weekend.
“Easter weekend we must take care, stay close to our home communities. If we do choose to attend worship services, look at what your attendance options (are), virtual is always safer than in-person,” said Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.