The statement says that on January 3, 2021, two of the Trinity Bible Chapel pastors received two changes each for violation of the Reopening Ontario Act.
On the same day, three additional elders, and the church itself received one charge each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act.
“Each personal charge carries a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year in jail, while the charge to the church as an institution carries a maximum fine of $10,000,000 if convicted.”
The church says that the charges are “for gathering a congregation to worship Christ in obedience to Scripture.”
Due to the charges, the elders and the church have retained legal counsel from the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF). The JCCF will represent those charged in court.
The church says in the statement that no outbreak of COVID-19 has been reported while the congregation has been gathering for worship from June 14, 2020, until December 24, 2020.
They say that between this time, authorities had also not interfered with the congregation worship gatherings, but that changed once the Ontario government implemented a second lockdown on December 26, 2020.
“The only difference is that the Province of Ontario entered its second lockdown on December 26, 2020.”
“This is the second week in a row that all elders have been charged. Last time members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service delivered our summonses to us at our homes, but this time they were delivered by regional by-law officers.”
The church says that their legal counsel from the JCCF has advised them to withhold from having any in-person gatherings in excess of 10 people at the church. The church says in-person gatherings will be discontinued until the end of “the current lockdown person on January 23.”
The church plans to hold drive-in services in the meantime and asks that “all who attend our drive-in service remain in their vehicles in accordance with provincial regulations.”
“The Province of Ontario considers it unlawful and dangerous for you to exit your vehicles to speak with each other on the church property, but you are apparently free to exchange greetings amidst the crowds of shoppers at Walmart which is 3.6 kilometers from our lot.”
“We know that this decision is heartbreaking for the many people who have found hope during our church services and who are also already burdened with despair by the destructive measures of our government, but we believe it is in the best interest of the church for various reasons, which we might make clearer in due course. We are committed to regathering as a congregation in person as soon as possible.”
Read the statement from Trinity Bible Chapel here.