All six elders from a church in Ontario, Canada have been charged with violating the province’s restrictions regarding in-person worship services. They’ve been summoned to criminal court for their alleged infraction.
On Dec. 30, officers with the Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) arrived at the doorstep of the elders of Trinity Bible Chapel and handed each one a court summons for neglecting Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).
The government edict only allows 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors during in-person services. The elders, who called the mandate “a violation” of their “God-given rights,” were slapped with a $10,000 fine.
“We are peaceful family men seeking to pastorally care for our families and our church in sincere obedience to God. We are not criminals,” the elders said in a statement.
“Although we know of officers within the WRPS who personally disagree with these charges, it appears the WRPS is trying to make an example of us.”
The church also said no outbreak of COVID-19 has been traced back to their congregation or worship services. What they have seen, however, is “a plethora of stories from many of our congregants about how they were negatively affected spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and financially during the first lockdown.”
In their statement, the elders also pointed out the hypocrisy of WRPS Chief of Police Brian Larkin who “publicly endorsed much larger public gatherings” last summer.
In June, Larkin said his entire department was throwing their “full support” behind a Black Lives Matter protest in which the “crowd may have been between 12,000 and 20,000 strong.”
“As your chief of police, I want you to know that our members will be there to not only ensure your safety and the safety of the public, but to show that we stand united with you,” Larkin said prior to the demonstrations.
Chief Larkin’s support for thousands of protesters and his refusal to allow a small group of church members to gather for worship demonstrates he does not feel Christians should be afforded the same freedoms, the elders noted.
“For years we have taught our children to respect police, and now our children and grandchildren are witness to their fathers and grandfathers receiving charges from police for worshiping Christ with our church. It is a dark day for Waterloo Region and Ontario,” the church leaders lamented.
Despite the summons, the church plans to continue holding in-person worship services on Sundays, with each service maxing out at “30% building occupancy in accordance with provincial requirements.”