WATERLOO, Ontario, July 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A Christian church in Canada, whose doors were locked by health officials for breaking COVID rules, is facing $85,000 in new fines, but a judge agreed Tuesday to allow them to open so long as they post a COVID safety “plan” inside their building.
“The other elders owe $7,500 each, and the church itself owes $35,000. The judge will review the Ministry of the Attorney General’s legal costs and then order us to pay legal costs at a later date. So in total we owe $85,000 plus legal costs,” wrote Pastor Jacob Reaume of Trinity Bible Chapel located in Waterloo, Ontario, in a July 27 note.
“Keep in mind that we owed $45,000 just for legal fees for the January 24 conviction. 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,” wrote Reaume.
Trinity Bible’s fines are the result of a contempt of court charge for holding an April 25 service contrary to local COVID rules.
Trinity Bible had its doors shut by Ontario Justice John Krawchenko on April 30 because it would not follow the local COVID rules in place at the time which banned in-person worship.
The church’s legal representatives from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) were in court Tuesday on behalf of the church.
LifeSiteNews corresponded with JCCF lawyer and interim President Lisa Bildy, who said that it will be very difficult for Trinity Bible to challenge the contempt of court fines.
The church had been fined thousands of dollars before for defying local COVID rules to hold indoor worship services.
Despite the fines, the same Kitchener judge who shut them down in April, Krawchenko, said they can gain access to the building if they supply a COVID health safety plan and place it in the church.
“The respondents shall provide a copy of their safety plan, which is required by law to the applicant, prepared in accordance with this regulation, and provide proof of its posting at the church, at which point the applicant shall cause the locks to be changed to allow the reopening of the church,” said Krawchenko during court proceedings Tuesday.
On July 16, the Ontario Attorney General said it would not consent to the removal of the locks on the church unless the elders signed an undertaking to promise to follow all COVID rules.
Trinity Bible refused to sign the undertaking at the time, but according to Reaume, Krawchenko this past Tuesday did not “require an undertaking to regain entry” to the church, and only said they had to post the COVID safety “plan.”
“So there’s a chance we could be in soon. But there’s some things we need to iron out,” noted Reaume. “The prosecution wanted us to sign an undertaking to abide by COVID protocols as prerequisite to getting our building back. We refused. In fact, while in court last week, we said through our counsel, ‘The church is the Bride of Christ and we cannot hand her over to Premier Ford — no undertaking on that basis will be given.’ That was recorded in the court file.”
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In his July 27 update, Reaume shared parts of his (paraphrased) personal address to the court, where he argued that “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.”
“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,” stated Reaume.
“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.”