Trinity Bible Chapel served motion for contempt order, lawyer says
KITCHENER -- A church in Woolwich Township that hosted two in-person gatherings over the weekend with hundreds of people in attendance has been served with a motion for a contempt order.
The church's lawyer said Trinity Bible Chapel and its leadership are both facing the motion, issued by the Attorney General's office.
Trevor Farrow, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School isn't involved in the case, but said this clash of social interests and pressures isn't usually at play.
"Part of what's really at stake is the clarity of the landscape," Farrow said. "It's not typically the state's role to really police how people practice their religion. Having said that, we have got pretty compelling circumstances right now for why the state is interested in keeping people apart."
Trinity Bible Chapel has defied lockdown and stay-at-home orders and hosted gatherings that exceeded the provincial limit of 10 people for religious services. It's already facing charges from previous gatherings and, if convicted, could face millions of dollars in fines.
Waterloo Region's police chief said charges are expected, but didn't specify when.
The church's lawyer said the contempt order is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday.
Other regions are also grappling with churches not following COVID-19 restrictions. In Aylmer, a YouTube video posted by Church of God showed members of the congregation leaving their vehicles and going inside.
"These types of gatherings are high risk environments for the transmission of COVID-19 and that is why they are not permitted under Ontario’s stay-at-home legislation," a statement from Southwestern Public Health said in part. "Use technology. Participate in a drive-in service. Now is not the time to gather in person. Southwestern Public Health continues to support local law enforcement, who are responsible for enforcing the provincial legislation."