Trinity Bible Chapel hosts in-person services during lockdown, defies court order
KITCHENER -- Despite a court order being issued by the Attorney General, in-person services went ahead as scheduled at Trinity Bible Chapel.
There were many cars in the church parking lot Sunday morning in Woolwich Township, but unlike in weeks past when they were there only for drive-in services, people of all ages could be seen entering the facility.
A man wearing a face mask held the door open for those going inside, many who were not wearing face masks.
A Guelph resident told CTV News they drove to the church to see if people would gather.
"I'm a support worker, I work with those most vulnerable," they said. "This breaks my heart."
The 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services were also broadcast online, where Pastor Jacob Reaume talked at length about what the church has been going through and the support they've received.
"Sometimes it feels like we as the church are under siege by the entire country right now," he said during the service. "We are receiving support from hundred and thousands of people around the world right now."
Reaume added that Pastor Steve Richardson of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tillsonburg, who offered his support to Trinity Bible Chapel, claims dozens of churches across Ontario are meeting as well, but doing so in secret.
Randy Hillier, an Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, voiced his support for the church Saturday and posted an online invitation hoping many others would join them.
Looking forward to attending Church this Sunday at 9AM in Waterloo for in-person service at @TBCWR. We are happy to accept this invitation and hope many others will join us.— Randy Hillier (@randyhillier) January 24, 2021
Read the invitation here: https://t.co/ob6cQNoEIJ#onpoli #cdnpoli
On Sunday, he tweeted a picture outside of Trinity Bible Chapel as well as one that appears to be inside.
"Our Christ has taught us to honour those in authority, so I do honour the MPP of Lanarck-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier who has decided to join us this morning," said Reaume during the service. "Randy has been more vocally supportive of our desire to gather as a church than majority of the pastors in Ontario."
Hillier could also be seen leaving the church after the 9 a.m. service.
CHURCH AT RISK OF BEING HELD IN CONTEMPT OF COURT FOR IN-PERSON SERVICES
The Region of Waterloo says the Attorney General obtained a court order for the church to follow under the Reopening Ontario Act or they could be at risk of being held in contempt of court.
"We do not stand in contempt of the heavenly courts though," said Reaume during the service. "In fact, I believe that the heavenly courts are smiling upon us."
On Saturday, the lawyer representing the church told CTV News the pastor feels the services are essential, are operating in accordance with its COVID-19 risk management protocols, and at 30 per cent capacity. She also noted that he is willing to withstand whatever penalties are thrown at him.
Regional officials were parked across from the church Sunday morning. Staff for the region says licensing and enforcement services were on location to observe activities as they continue to work with and support provincial enforcement partners.
The provincial stay-at-home order currently states there are to be no public or private indoor gatherings, and outdoor gatherings are limited to five people.
A Region of Waterloo spokesperson could not confirm if any fines or tickets were issued on Sunday.
The church is already facing charges for defying lockdown orders earlier this year. If convicted, leaders and members could face fines that total in the millions of dollars.
A pre-judicial court date has been set for Feb. 26.
CTV News has reached out to both the Attorney General's office and Pastor Jacob Reaume for comment.
WRPS Statement— Waterloo Regional Police (@WRPSToday) January 24, 2021
We are aware of the church service that was held earlier today at Trinity Bible Chapel.
This service was held despite a Superior Court Order compelling the Chapel to comply with The Reopening Ontario Act. pic.twitter.com/20cn3z2y4n