Manitobans may be excited to head back to the pew but those turning their attention to the pulpit have reservations.

The province is proposing a 10 per cent capacity maximum on worship facilities across Manitoba, with a maximum of 50 people, starting on February 13. After hearing the news, pastors have mixed opinions. 

Pastor Erik Parker from Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, also known as the Millenial Pastor, previously penned a letter to Springs Church asking them to follow public health orders when Springs was holding drive-in worship services against the health orders. He says he was not expecting the province to allow churches to reopen.

"I am a little surprised that they are thinking about 10 per cent, but really it is a small number that the input of how much work it would take to be covid safe and to have all those protocols and to have the number of people in our building makes it hard to think about if we really want to put in the effort to do that."

He says his church has put a lot of work into their online services and will continue to strengthen its online presence. 

Pastor Jared Clarke from Calvary Temple says because the reopening capacity is so small, it is not going to make a big difference for the large church's community. 

"As far as the service thing for 50 people, other than maybe a prayer service or something small like that we would not open our Sunday services at this number."

The pastor says the gathering sizes are not large enough for them to reasonably open their doors. 

Pastor Andy Capesinio from Filipino Interchurch Fellowship Winnipeg is much more positive about the changes.

"Personally, it helps at the local church," Capesinio says. "As the President of the Filipino interchurch fellowship Winnipeg, there are 28 local churches the majority are excited to have that capacity."

He says in their group chat, many pastors are looking forward to in-person services.

"I hope we will finalize and somehow improve more and increase a little bit, but that is good enough."

Capesinio is holding out hope, excited to see what next week's official orders will bring. 

Heading north out of the city, Pastor Jason Foster from The Pas Christian Fellowship wants churches to be allowed to have a 25 per cent capacity, simular to the retail and restaurant industry. 

"I think the church is able to open to 25 per cent as well in a safe manner," he says. "There is no difference being in the air of a restaurant than being in the air of a sanctuary, in my opinion."

Foster says his church has worked hard to follow the fundamentals, going "above and beyond" what was recommended. 

"As a pastor, our number one priority is to keep our congregants safe."

He says online church is not the same as meeting in person, but has not decided if they will reopen their doors. The pastor says they might use the 10 per cent capacity maximum to increase the number of staff doing online service instead of only allowing a handful of people inside. 


With files from Sylvia St. Cyr