Canadian pastor who defied COVID ban by holding services sings ‘Amazing Grace’ at US border

A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for holding church services in defiance of the government last year traveled with some of his friends to sing “Amazing Grace” at the Canadian-US border as tens of thousands of canadian truckers gathered in Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates.

Pastor Tobias Tissen of Steinbach, Manitoba, went to the US border in Emerson, Manitoba, on Sunday to sing the classic Christian hymn, according to footage posted on his Instagram.

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“Like I said yesterday, all I would need before was just my Canadian passport,” Tissen said regarding what he would need to cross the border in Emerson, which straddles Minnesota and North Dakota. “Now that’s not good enough.”

As of Jan. 22, the US Department of Homeland Security required that all foreign travelers, including Canadians, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country via land and ferry ports of entry.

“Anyway, while we’re here, we want to do something interesting. Want to try to do something that I don’t know was ever done over here, right in front of the border. And that is, we want to sing ‘ Amazing Grace.’ I’m here with some friends,” Tissen continued.

Tissen also pointed out a sign that said, “Church is essential,” and another that said, “God’s justice is coming.”

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The rural Canadian pastor made headlines in October when he was arrested and jailed for nearly two days for a warrant issued against him last May related to a provincial public health order that banned outdoor gatherings of more than five people.

Pastor Tobias Tissen is arrested in Steinbach, Manitoba, on Oct. 18, 2021. (Photo courtesy Pastor Henry Hildebrandt)

Tissen had been in hiding for months before his arrest, for some time only making public appearances at his Church of God Restoration in Steinbach, which is about an hour’s drive north of the Minnesota border.

Church of God Restoration and its congregation of less than 200 people had repeatedly clashed with authorities over church gatherings, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in fines. In November 2020, federal law enforcement blocked the church’s parking lot to prevent parishioners from attending a drive-in service.

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“In Ephesians, it says that we’re fighting against spiritual wickedness in high places and principalities and powers,” Tissen told Fox News Digital at the time of his arrest. “That’s it, right now, what we see. And they’re after all of us who are giving to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But now, Caesar wants that which belongs to God.”

“And as Christians, we just cannot. We cannot comply with that,” he added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to question during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Oct. 6, 2021. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to question during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Oct. 6, 2021. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)

Since the pandemic, churches throughout Canada have faced imprisoned pastorslocked facilities, steep fines and continued interference from government officials. After Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested in Calgary when a police helicopter found his church gathering outside last summer, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., urged the US Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF) to consider adding Canada to its watch list.

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Tissen’s demonstration came as the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers in Ottawa draws international attention. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeauwho was moved to a secret location as the protesters descended on the capital over the weekend, condemned the protesters on Monday and accused them of “hateful rhetoric.”

Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.