Minister Tobias Tissen leads a prayer from the back of a pickup truck after RCMP blocked the entrance at Church of God, south of Steinbach, Man., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. PHOTO BY KEVIN KING /Winnipeg Sun

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Published Oct 19, 2021

A southeastern Manitoba pastor who has openly flouted provincial COVID-19 health orders was arrested Monday night by RCMP.

A video of the arrest of Church of God Restoration Pastor Tobias Tissen was posted on Monday evening on the Twitter account of fellow Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, who is a colleague of Tissen’s.

The video shows Tissen being handcuffed and placed into an RCMP police cruiser on Monday evening in the city of Steinbach.

“On the evening of October 18, 2021, officers with the Steinbach RCMP conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle within the City of Steinbach and arrested Tobias Tissen without incident,” Manitoba RCMP said in an email sent to the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday morning.

“Mr. Tissen had an outstanding Warrant of Arrest issued by the Province of Manitoba. The Warrant was for Contravening an Order made under The Public Health Act, Sec. 90(1)(b). Mr. Tissen remains in custody. We have no information as to his next court appearance.”

Tissen is a pastor at the Church of God Restoration, which sits near the community of Sarto in the RM of Hanover. The church has made headlines in recent months for publicly defying provincial COVID-19 health orders, and for organizing large rallies in defiance of the health orders that were in place at the time.

In a second video on Hildebrandt’s account on Monday the pastor gave a rambling response to Tissen’s arrest, and even urged police to start defying their orders and their superiors when enforcing public health orders.

“Shame on Canada, shame on our police,” Hildebrandt said in the video. “Never did we think that in 2021 we would be hearing news of pastors being arrested in Canada.

“Today it’s the pastors, tomorrow it is you, as they handcuff you tomorrow with your own cuffs, and apprehend your children, and do with them whatever they want, you might remember what you have done.

“I ask you police, wake up and stand against these draconian, tyrannical things. Refuse to do it.”

Over the past year, the church has received multiple fines for violating in-person gathering limits, and Tissen is also part of a group of seven rural Manitoba church leaders fighting the legality COVID-19 health orders in court.

The church is part of the greater Church of God Restoration, a denomination with congregations based around the world.

In a Winnipeg Sun article published back in June former Church of God Restoration member Tina Wall, who left the church in 2019, accused church leadership of running a “cult” like organization where members were not allowed to watch any videos or moving pictures, and where church leaders used “emotional abuse” to keep control over church members.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

This item is reprinted with permission from Winnipeg Sun. See article HERE.

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