Saskatchewan

Drive-in Easter Sunday service cancelled after complaints to health officials

Nipawin Apostolic Church had planned a drive-in Easter Sunday service but has had to cancel after health officials received complaints about the event.

Nipawin Apostolic Church had planned a drive-in Easter Sunday service but has had to cancel the event

The service was planned to happen in the arena parking lot in Nipawin, Sask. (Shutterstock/Popova Tetiana)

Nipawin Apostolic Church had wanted to try something different for its Easter Sunday services: a drive-in service in the same format as a drive-in movie or a drive-in diner. But the church has cancelled the service after health officials received complaints about the event.

"They decided that it's classified as a mass gathering," said Lead Pastor Jordan Gadsby.

He said the church did everything they could to follow correct provincial guidelines, including approving it with the town administration but the Saskatchewan Health Authority was worried about the possibility of people seeing a friend and getting out of their vehicle.

"Public health said they want people to stay home," Gadsby said. "They don't want them going out to anything."

The church had put a lot of work into preparing for the event, including setting up a sound stage and a flat deck trailer to serve as a stage. 

"It's really disappointing. We were excited about it. We thought this was a way we could keep everybody safe and do something a little bit different and provide people an opportunity to celebrate Easter in a safe way and not just being on their own."

He said people shouldn't think of the health authority as "this big bad authority telling everybody what they're not allowed to do."

"They're trying to do the best with all the information they have to keep people safe," he said.

"We'll have to find other ways to be creative and care for people and continue to extend the message of hope and grace to people around us."

A unique idea

Gadsby said online streaming of their services has been a part of their toolbox for years, so he wanted to do something extra for Easter.

The plan was for people to go to the Centennial Arena parking lot in Nipawin, Sask., at 10:30 A.M. CST for the service. People were asked to stay in their vehicles and tune their radio to 99.3 FM to hear it. Their team would play a couple songs, then Gadsby would deliver his message, then more live music. 

Instead of shouting, "Amen," out the windows, Gadsby imagined people flashing their lights in response.

"We wanted to provide a safe way for them to celebrate Easter when often people would be around family and doing all kinds of more social things," Pastor Gadsby said. 

Gadsby drew some comparison between the literature in his faith and what's going on in the world right now. He said on the first Easter, people felt like their world was turned upside down, too. 

"But that wasn't the end of the story. We don't think this is the end of the story for us either," he said.  "We want to get that message out that there is life and hope and a future for us."

Gadsby said the post on Facebook announcing the service was one of their most shared and viewed. 

"We've got a few phone calls of people being excited about it," he said. 

Gadsby said he's seen his community come together in this strange time. People are volunteering to get groceries for others and calling each other and keeping up with church groups on various video-chatting platforms. 

"We're always looking for new ideas on how to connect and care for people," he said. 

"I'm also looking forward to when we can actually see face-to-face and shake hands or give someone a hug, and I think we can throw the biggest best party as soon as we're safely able to do that."

About the Author

Emily Pasiuk

Reporter/Associate Producer

Emily Pasiuk is a Regina-based reporter for CBC Saskatchewan and an associate producer for The Morning Edition. She has filmed two documentaries, reported at CTV Saskatoon and written for Global Regina. Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.

With files from Ashleigh Mattern

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