A Canadian church shut down in April for holding in-house services has been ordered to pay more fines after being found in contempt of court for the April 25th service held contrary to local COVID rules.
KitchenerToday reports this past Tuesday, Justice John Krakchenko ordered Trinity Bible Chapel, a church located about 80 miles west of Toronto, and its leaders to pay a total of $85,000 in fines after finding the church in contempt of court for the second time.
However, the church was encouraged by the Justice's statement that the locks could come off the doors if Trinity posted a COVID safety plan inside the building.
The church's first brush with their COVID overseers came in February when Trinity Bible Chapel was issued fines worth $38,000, and court fees of $45,000 for holding an in-person service with more than 10 people in attendance in January. Those fines have since all been paid in full.
The pastors insist that churches are essential in times of trouble, and remaining open for worshippers and seekers to come and gather is part of being essential.
As previously reported by CBN News, Assistant Pastor Will Shuurman blogged at the time that it's estimated that a tenth of people living in Ontario (1.5 million) have contemplated suicide during the year of pandemic lockdowns and that people are looking for the hope the church offers. That "illegal" service in January that had more attendees than rules allowed resulted in 13 people giving their lives to Christ and being baptized in the following weeks.
"God showed up in power," Shuurman wrote, saying even people who didn't agree with the decision to open could be glad about that.
Senior Pastor Jacob Reaume makes no apologies for opening his church's doors to anyone who wants to come. In his blog on the church's website, he noted, too, that their area is at low risk for COVID.
"As of the last time I checked we have 10 people in local ICUs with COVID-19. 535,154 persons live in this region. 10 are in an ICU with COVID-19. And according to our politicians that's the reason we must reform our worship of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, on the Lord's Day."
Reaume went on to write, "We do not place our ultimate hope in governments and their plans to keep us safe. Our hope is in Jesus Christ... Our greatest threat is not a virus that 99.937% of Canadians have not died from. Much rather our great threat is the sin in our hearts which leads to hell, an imminent danger to 100% of Canadians."
In the most recent court proceedings, Pastor Reaume also personally addressed the court. In his July 27 update blog, he paraphrased what he said to the court, and expressed regret that his church's mission had run afoul of local protocols.
"Your Honour, our consciences have been bound to continue ministering as our Lord has taught us and as Christians have done for millennia. Our Lord has taught us to gather for worship at least one day in seven, and that has been the consistent pattern of Christians since the Day of Pentecost," Reaume wrote.
"Our greatest sorrow in these contempt findings is not the penalties we have incurred but rather that we defied the orders of this court to uphold the orders of our Creator. We would much rather live in a world where the government and this honourable court provide orders that are in line with the orders of our Lord Jesus."
Reaume says the church, he, his co-pastors, and some elders personally owe a total of $85,000 plus legal costs from this latest contempt charge. But he concludes it really is a small price to pay compared to the sacrifice Jesus made for us all.
"Not only do we rejoice that our extravagant worship services have given us the opportunity to lead many people to Jesus, as it seems we learn of new people every week who have been saved during this time of persecution, but also now our extravagant worship services have furnished the opportunity to bear witness to the worthiness of Christ before the Superior Court of Ontario."
"For contempt proceedings, it's unlikely that we can appeal. So we'll have to pay up. When this is all added up, we're gonna owe a lot of money. But Jesus is worth it."