The Pastor’s Blog – Trinity Bible Chapel https://trinitybiblechapel.ca We Preach Christ Fri, 08 Jan 2021 23:47:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 We Preach Christ The Pastor’s Blog – Trinity Bible Chapel We Preach Christ The Pastor’s Blog – Trinity Bible Chapel https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/hbc/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg https://trinitybiblechapel.ca Six Elders and Church Charged for Meeting: Max Total Penalty is $10.8 Million plus Jail Time https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/press-release-jan-8/ Fri, 08 Jan 2021 22:42:34 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=12844 January 8, 2021 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PASTORS, ELDERS, AND CHURCH CHARGED FOR WORSHIPING TOGETHER MAXIMUM TOTAL PENALTY IS $10.8 MILLION PLUS JAIL TIME IF CONVICTED This week two pastors of Trinity Bible Chapel received two charges each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act on January 3, 2021.  An additional pastor, three additional elders, and the church itself received one charge each for violating the Reopening
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January 8, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PASTORS, ELDERS, AND CHURCH CHARGED FOR WORSHIPING TOGETHER

MAXIMUM TOTAL PENALTY IS $10.8 MILLION PLUS JAIL TIME IF CONVICTED

This week two pastors of Trinity Bible Chapel received two charges each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act on January 3, 2021.  An additional pastor, three additional elders, and the church itself received one charge each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act on the same date.  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.  Please note that the fine to the church poses no personal risk to individual members.  This is all for gathering a congregation to worship Christ in obedience to Scripture.  The elders and the church have retained legal counsel from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) who plan to represent us in court.

Our congregation gathered for worship from June 14, 2020 until December 24, 2020 with no reported outbreak of COVID-19 and with no interference from the authorities.  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.

Being advised by the JCCF, we will not hold in-person gatherings in excess of 10 persons at Trinity Bible Chapel, commencing immediately, until the end of the current lockdown period on January 23. We plan to conduct drive-in services on the Lord’s Day.  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.

As we walk through this storm, our eyes are joyfully fixed upon our Saviour who can end this trial with one small word.  He is a kind and gentle Saviour, and we can trust Him.  “I lift my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

In order to demonstrate your commitment to gathering for worship, we ask that you attend our drive-in worship service this Sunday at 10:30 AM.  We do ask 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.

Further internal communication will come to our congregation at a later time.

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Press Release – All Elders of Trinity Bible Chapel Charged https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/press-release/ Thu, 31 Dec 2020 22:53:33 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=12808 New Years Eve, December 31, 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PASTORS AND ELDERS CHARGED FOR HOLDING CHURCH SERVICES Yesterday evening, all six of the elders of Trinity Bible Chapel were charged under Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) for holding church services on Sunday, December 27. We are peaceful family men seeking to pastorally care for our families and our church in sincere obedience
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New Years Eve, December 31, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PASTORS AND ELDERS CHARGED FOR HOLDING CHURCH SERVICES

Yesterday evening, all six of the elders of Trinity Bible Chapel were charged under Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) for holding church services on Sunday, December 27. We are peaceful family men seeking to pastorally care for our families and our church in sincere obedience to God. We are not criminals. Officers from the Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) showed up at each of our homes last night at roughly 8pm and gave us each a summons to court. While other pastors in Ontario have faced similar charges under the ROA for holding church services, to our knowledge this is the first time that each and every member of an entire elders board has been charged for gathering a church to worship. Although we know of officers within the WRPS who personally disagree with these charges, it appears the WRPS is trying to make an example of us. For years we have taught our children to respect police, and now our children and grandchildren are witness to their fathers and grandfathers receiving charges from police for worshipping Christ with our church. It is a dark day for Waterloo Region and Ontario.

Since we decided to re-open the church in June, implementing various COVID protocols in our services, we have not had a single outbreak traced back to our church. We thank God for that.  Instead, we have heard a plethora of stories from many of our congregants about how they were negatively affected spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and financially during the first lockdown. On December 3, we informed our governing authorities that we cannot shut down the church again in an open letter entitled, “Here we Stand: The Church Must Meet.”[1] Not one of our officials replied with an attempt to work with us.  Our church community has become a vital refuge for hundreds of people during these times of despair. Our government is destroying our society to prevent the spread of a virus with a fraction of a fractional death rate.[2] This is evil. Nowhere does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee freedom from risk or virus, but it does protect the freedom of conscience, religion, belief, and assembly.[3] These are unlawful laws, a violation of God given rights, a contravention of Section 176 of the Criminal Code, and an infringement of the Charter.

We have ancestors who fought in wars to protect us from state abuses of this nature, and many of our families fled police states that eerily resemble what we are being subjected to at the present. Our high school teachers, parents, and grandparents warned us against governments that act this way.

While we seek to honour and pray for our governing officials, we are also grieved over the apparent hypocrisy and arbitrary applications of law. Several politicians have been caught violating their own laws by visiting cottages, hosting gatherings, or jaunting to warmer climates. Our very own Chief of Police, Brian Larkin, publicly endorsed much larger public gatherings in June. While Ontarians were restricted to outdoor gatherings of 5 or less persons, the Chief of Police offered the “full support” to a protest in which the “crowd may have been between 12,000 and 20,000 strong.”[4] Chief Larkin explained to participants, even as they contravened lockdown orders, that police “will ensure you have the support needed to practice your democratic right and have your voice heard.”[5]  The arbitrary rule of law is dangerous even as it is contrary to our inherited values.

Our Saviour shed His blood to purchase the church, and therefore deeming the church “unessential” is tantamount to deeming the blood of Christ unessential, which is a public act of blasphemy.  One day our elected officials, bureaucrats, and police will stand before the court of God’s justice for these acts.  We earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to his Son, Jesus Christ, who offers free grace and forgiveness to all who would repent and put their faith in him.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and therefore we must honour and obey him above all earthly governments. We emphasize that our hope in Christ’s goodness is firmly anchored.  Our Saviour is just, equitable, and loving towards his people.  He has every hair on our heads numbered, and his eyes see all things. He will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, and we will fear no evil.  He has taught us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and to count our sufferings as pure joy.  We embrace his will in humility by submitting to his heavy hand trusting that in the proper time he will exalt us because he cares.

Members and adherents of Trinity Bible Chapel can anticipate internal communication by Friday at 5:30 PM.  If you are a member or adherent and do not receive that communication please contact one of the elders.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience” – C.S. Lewis

 

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[1]From https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/here-we-stand-the-church-must-meet/, accessed December 31, 2020.

[2] The CDC’s survival rates are as follows:

0-19 yrs old: 99.997%
20-49 yrs old: 99.98%
50-69 yrs old: 99.5%
70+ yrs old: 94.6%

From: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html, accessed December 31, 2020.

[3]From https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-15.html, accessed December 31, 2020.

[4] From https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/as-it-happened-thousands-of-people-gather-for-peaceful-black-lives-matter-march-in-kitchener-1.4966927, accessed December 31, 2020.

[5] From https://www.wrps.on.ca/en/news/wrps-supports-solidarity-march-for-black-lives-matter-we-stand-united-with-you.aspx, accessed December 31, 2020.

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Here We Stand: The Church Must Meet https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/here-we-stand-the-church-must-meet/ Thu, 03 Dec 2020 18:24:17 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=12687 An open letter to the executive branches of Ontario and Canada, Municipal Regulatory Authorities, Judges, and all those who may be blessed by our commitment to obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who purchased us by His very own blood.

RE: Trinity Bible Chapel’s position founded on the Word of God to remain open and meeting under Threat of Lockdown

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This document has the full support of all pastors and elders of Trinity Bible Chapel.

To all who witness.

An open letter to the executive branches of Ontario and Canada, Municipal Regulatory Authorities, Judges, and all those who may be blessed by our commitment to obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who purchased us by His very own blood.

RE: Trinity Bible Chapel’s position founded on the Word of God to remain open and meeting under Threat of Lockdown

This letter is intended to give notice and reasoning as to why Trinity Bible Chapel (“TBC”), located in Waterloo Region, Ontario will remain open in the event of a lockdown or similar order issued by the Province or Municipal government (a “lockdown”).1 TBC asserts that its religious belief, which freedom is protected under section 2(a) and 2(c) of the Constitution Act, 1982 (the “Charter”), requires it to meet regularly in person. Further TBC asserts that the Province has not demonstrated that the restrictions currently put in place with respect to COVID-19 or a lockdown would be effective, nor would they be considered the “least restrictive means” or a “minimal impairment”, an essential branch of the seminal Oakes test, the proportionality test required to be satisfied whenever the Provincial/Federal government violates a person’s (including a corporation’s) constitutional rights.

In addition to the violation of religious freedom and a point that we wish not to belabour, a lockdown would represent an offence under section 176 of the Canada Criminal Code, obstructing or violence to or arrest of an officiating clergyman, since such a lockdown order would be an unconstitutional and unlawful restriction of religious freedom. An offence under section 176(1) of the Canada Criminal Code is an indictable offence carrying serious consequences. Despite the historic independence the church has enjoyed from the Federal and Provincial government, seen both in legal precedent and codified in the Canadian Constitution (British North America Act, 1867), Charter and the Canada Criminal Code, along with other major acts of legislation (e.g. Income Tax Act, Corporations Act, Land Transfer Act, etc.), this independence has been seemingly abandoned by the rules set by the Province.

Biblical Requirement to Meet Regularly as a Church

TBC has, since its beginning, served our Lord and community by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sponsoring foreign missionaries, contributing to local pregnancy crisis centers, assisting those in need, offering hope to those in despair, comforting the bereaved, providing pastoral care for families and singles, counseling broken marriages towards restoration, visiting the sick and lonely, sponsoring refugees, helping immigrants integrate into our community, educating children, officiating at weddings and funerals, and performing a plethora of other good deeds which have positively contributed to the welfare of thousands of individuals. Our observation is that these times of isolation, due to the government’s restrictive actions, have harmed people and society by perpetuating loneliness, hopelessness, fear, poverty, division, anger, the deterioration of relationships, and a plethora of other evils which will become more evident with time. These observations do not surprise us because the restrictive actions of the government have wrongfully reduced human beings to biological units with little purpose to existence other than to avoid contracting and spreading a virus.2 Scripture teaches us that people are much more than biological units. We are created in the image of God with dignity and worth to live free, love one another, worship together, grow families, eat with each other, laugh and cry together, embrace one another, exchange goods and services, and build things. Central to the Christian life is the ministry of the church, and TBC asserts that the church must remain open.

TBC believes that Scripture commands us to meet for worship in person, that the definition of “church” requires us to gather in person, and that the Law of God demands we gather at least weekly. This has been articulated in our church doctrinal statement, and each of our members has taken a solemn oath and covenant before God to meet regularly for worship, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper.

Scripture, which is God’s Word to us, commands Christians to gather in person for church (Hebrews 10:24-25). Regularly meeting in person was the pattern established by Christ’s apostles: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Christian meetings include fellowship, which entails togetherness, sharing of goods and food, showing hospitality, and presence of person, much like a family unit (Acts 4:32-37). The New Testament upholds the church as a spiritual family, so much that the bonds within the church are stronger than blood relations (Matthew 10:37; 13:53-58; Luke 14:26). For this reason, Christians often refer to each other as “brother” and “sister.” To operate as a church, Christians are expected to experience fellowship regularly with one another like a family that lives under the same roof.

Embedded in the definition of church is gathering together. The New Testament word for church is the Greek word, ekklesia. Etymologically, ekklesia is the combination of two words that together mean “called out,” as in a group of people called out to gather. The definition of the word demands that a church not be reduced to less than a gathering of people. The lexical range of ekklesia includes “assembly,” “gathering,” “a specific Christian group assembly, gathering ordinarily involving worship and discussion of matters of concern to the community,” and “the totality of Christians living and meeting in a particular locality.”3 Where there is no physical gathering there is no church. For the church to exist it must gather.

The pattern since creation has been for believers to meet officially for worship at least once weekly. The Ten Commandments were written in stone by the finger of God, thus signifying the abiding authority of God’s Law. The fourth commandment reads, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:8-11). The Old Testament community set aside the seventh day for rest and public congregational worship: to do otherwise was a transgression of the Law. Christ was raised from the dead on the first day of the week, and since then churches have regularly met on the first day, Sunday, for worship, prayer, preaching, and the ordinances (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). To cease meeting together for worship at least weekly is to be a disobedient Christian.

Scripture describes the church as a body with many parts. As a human body cannot exist without all its parts fastened together so the church cannot exist without all its people together. Saint Paul presses this analogy,

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).

In essence, the church is a composition of members that function in harmony. It is a body, and as a body all the parts must be together. Saint Paul continues, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Each individual is a valuable part of the church, and the church as a whole needs each individual. A church that does not gather is like a body with its parts scattered across a city. A body exists as parts together, and the church exists as Christians together.

The church must be together to fulfill its mission because its mission depends on togetherness and physical presence. The Scriptures command the church to partake of the Lord’s Supper together (1 Corinthians 11:17-34), to baptize new converts (Matthew 28:19), to anoint the sick with oil (James 5:14), to ordain elders and pastors with the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22), and to greet each other with a holy kiss (1 Corinthians 16:20). None of these actions are possible while separate or isolated. Each must be done in person because the New Testament presupposes that the church will be together.

Jesus epitomized Christian togetherness by incarnating as a man in the flesh. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Some have expected church services to be held online, but that betrays the Scriptural notion of an unmediated ministry. Had God conceived of something other than the normalcy of an in-person ministry, he might have sent a picture or a hologram or a pixelated representation of Himself on a computer screen. Instead, God incarnated in the person of Christ by being born of a virgin, living and eating among men, performing miracles, being crucified, and rising bodily from the dead. Christians still wait expectantly for the bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth. Because of Christ’s example to us, TBC believes that we must be physically present with each other.

Ironically, politicians and medical bureaucrats are calling for people to self-isolate this Christmastime out of what they consider “love for neighbour” to “reduce the spread.” Yet, Christmas is the season that celebrates God’s act of love when He became a man and dwelt among men. The concept of healthy people self-isolating to love their neighbours is not only completely foreign to Scripture but is also condemned as foolish and selfish by Scripture: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). It is noteworthy that the indoor gathering of three wise men with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus would be an illegal gathering in a lockdown, as would Christ’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand and His Last Supper with His twelve disciples. The call to isolate is a call that is contrary to Christ’s example at Christmas when He became a man, and it is furthermore a contravention of God’s demands on His people.

In accordance with the practice of the ancient church, TBC has taught since its inception that the church must meet. So fundamental to our existence is our gathering together that it is captured in TBC’s doctrinal statement, a foundational document to the church, which all members agree to uphold:

The Scriptures command believers to gather locally in order to devote themselves to worship, prayer, teaching of the Word, fellowship, the ordinances of baptism and communion, service to the local body through the development and use of talents and spiritual gifts, and outreach to the world to make disciples. Wherever God’s people meet regularly in obedience to this command, there is the local expression of the Church under the watchful care of a plurality of elders.

Another foundational document to TBC is the church covenant. In accordance with that covenant, all members of TBC have taken a solemn oath and covenant to meet together for worship, prayer, and to partake together of the Lord’s Supper:

We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others. We will regularly participate together in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

Being bound by Scripture to be with each other, members of TBC therefore have solemnly covenanted before God to worship together and be with each other regularly. To not be together is to violate God’s commands and our own solemn oath and covenant.

Extent of Christian Obedience to Governing Authorities

Scripture also commands Christians to be subject to governing authorities. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). The command, however, is not ultimate. In such cases when government edicts contradict God’s commands, Christians must obey God over government. Confronted with governing authorities that required them to disobey God, Saint Peter and the other apostles once said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The Lord Jesus predicted that governments would oppose His Law to the point of punishing His people through court systems (Matthew 10:16-25). Tradition and history recount that all of Christ’s apostles, except one, were martyred for their obedience to God instead of man. History indicates that the one apostle who did die of natural causes, Saint John, was once imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos and also boiled in oil for his obedience to God instead of man. The apostles, along with the Lord Jesus and the earlier prophets, exhibited Christian faithfulness under the threat of government penalty. They “suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:36-37). When the government commands what God forbids or forbids what God commands, Christians must obey God over the government.

Typically obedience to Federal, Provincial, and Municipal regulations is easily given, such as is the case with fire safety codes, municipal drainage requirements, and other building codes. But a lockdown order to cease meeting as a church body for fellowship and worship would contradict the commandments of God, and in such a case TBC is compelled to listen to God instead of the government. Further, while TBC respects the power and scope of various legislative and executive bodies in Canada to regulate public matters, the matters of a church are to be governed by the elders of a church (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:7).

The Scriptures command the church to meet. The church must meet to be a church. God’s Law teaches us to meet no less than once weekly. This is written in our church doctrinal statement, and every member of our church has taken a solemn oath and covenant before God to meet. Under threat of prosecution and public shaming, TBC will, with God’s help, obey God over government.

Conclusion

While our desire is to work with the Province to care for the health of our community, TBC respectfully advises that it must practice civil disobedience in the event of a government lockdown. By God’s grace, Canada was founded on Christian principles, as enumerated in the preamble of the Charter, namely the supremacy of God and the rule of law. While it is still our hope and prayer that another lockdown does not occur in our region, TBC will, with God’s help and by His grace, continue to meet if any lockdown or similar order by the Province or Municipal government does occur and firmly states that the sincere belief and religious practice of regular Sunday meetings fall under the fundamental freedoms of religion and peaceful assembly found in sections 2(a) and 2(c) of the Charter.

To all those who read, we encourage you to prayerfully consider the biblical requirement of Christians to physically gather as a body and the blessing provided by this gift of fellowship.

 


Supplemental Materials

Pastor Jacob Reaume and Trinity Bible Chapel hosted a webinar with constitutional litigator James Kitchen and Pastor Aaron Rock called “Conflicting Duties: Christian Worship and the Magistrate’s Quarantine” on May 14, 2020.  It can be accessed here.

Pastor Will Schuurman wrote several blogs on the Trinity Bible Chapel website in late May on related topics including “COVID-19 and Romans 13” on May 23, 2020 and “On Gathering, Assembly Bans, and Romans 13” on May 26, 2020. You can access them here and here.

Pastor Jacob Reaume and Trinity Bible Chapel were involved with the Reopen Ontario Churches Campaign in late May and early June, 2020.  Several hundred churches petitioned the government to open the church, and the petition can be accessed here.

Pastor John Macarthur and Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California wrote a blog called “Christ, not Caesar, Is Head of the Church” on July 24, 2020, in which they declared that their church will not abide by California lockdown orders.  It can be accessed here.

Pastor Jacob Reaume and Trinity Bible Chapel were involved with and among the first signatories of the Niagara Declaration, drafted in September, 2020 in which many Canadian churches and politicians asserted the divine, historic, and legal independence of the church from the state.  It can be accessed here.

Pastor Aaron Rock, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Windsor, Ontario, authored a blog exhorting churches to obey God over the state, under threat of lockdown, called, “A Call to Divine Obedience, over Civil Obedience.” It can be accessed here.

Pastor Jacob Reaume, senior pastor of Trinity Bible Chapel, was asked to pray at a worship protest, held November 29, 2020, at Queen’s Park.  The full video of the protest can be accessed here.

The Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity in Grimsby, Ontario, with Rev. Dr. Joe Boot, recently produced a series of podcasts responding to the threat of a second lockdown on the church.  You can access them here, here, and here.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, on December 3, 2020 released a report that government data demonstrates that the lockdown is more deadly than COVID-19.  The news release, which links to the report, is available here.

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Honouring Those Who Fought For Ontario Churches https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/honouring-those-who-fought-for-ontario-churches/ Tue, 09 Jun 2020 00:17:21 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11855 Three months ago, the Premier of Ontario ordered all the churches to close as part of the emergency orders.  The initial messaging was, “14 days to flatten the curve.”  Over time, that seemed to change, and as it changed I grew more concerned. Knowing the trouble that people can get into when not at church my heart became more heavy as the days and weeks
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Three months ago, the Premier of Ontario ordered all the churches to close as part of the emergency orders.  The initial messaging was, “14 days to flatten the curve.”  Over time, that seemed to change, and as it changed I grew more concerned.

Knowing the trouble that people can get into when not at church my heart became more heavy as the days and weeks moved on.  It seemed like darkness had fallen upon the land, especially when church was closed on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  We held a drive-in service this past Sunday, and I beamed with gladness to watch people roll into the lot, many of whom I had not seen in three months.

Today the Premier of Ontario said that all churches can open this weekend at 30% capacity.  I am relieved.   It is an answer to prayer.  God has heard the cries of His people.

In that, there are some people who need to be honoured.  Pastors Joe Boot and Aaron Rock wrote a letter to the Premier and launched their reopenontariochurches.ca site.  With well over 400 churches, they petitioned the Premier to uphold our religious freedom and allow the churches to lawfully gather.  Pastor Joe Boot is the founding pastor of the Westminster Chapel at High Park in Toronto and president of the Ezra Instituted for Contemporary Christianity in Grimsby.  Pastor Aaron Rock is the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Windsor.  They are both dear brothers, and I am honoured to count them as friends.  Not only did they draft a letter and organize hundreds of churches, but they spent countless hours advocating to bureaucrats and politicians on behalf of the Bride of Christ.  Pastors Joe and Aaron are heroes.  I know for a fact that today’s announcement is a direct result of their efforts.  They deserve great honour among our churches for their work.  Only on the day of judgment will we be able to fully appreciate the eternal ramifications of their work on behalf of the most precious institution on earth and the Christian people who were purchased by the blood of Christ.

There are several others who deserve honourable mention.  Constitutional litigators James Kitchen and Lisa Bildy, who both work for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, advised pastors, including me, on how best to proceed, and they also advocated before the authorities on our behalf.

Our own church attempted to make contact with multiple politicians and bureaucrats.  Member of Provincial Parliament, from Cambridge, Belinda Karahalios reached out to me personally with several phone calls, including one very lengthy call with me, our elder chairman, and a handful of pastors I invited.  Caring about the situation, she was in regular contact with me over the last few months, and, given what she’s said and knowing her concern for the churches, I have every reason to believe that she advocated on our behalf in caucus.

While many put in a great effort and deserve honour, we must acknowledge that this is ultimately the answer to the prayers of thousands of Christians in Ontario over the last several months.  Heaven has heard us.

Even as we remain grateful for this very positive step, we will continue to pray that the 30% limit increases to 100% capacity soon.  But we can pause for a moment of celebration and thanksgiving to our God who has remembered us.

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Conflicting Duties: Christian Worship and the Magistrate’s Quarantine https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/conflicting-duties-christian-worship-and-the-magistrates-quarantine/ Fri, 15 May 2020 16:13:22 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11716 The Lord Jesus suffered so that His gathered Church will worship Him. The magistrate has prohibited gatherings, including the congregational worship of Jesus Christ. The webinar video below (recorded on May 14, 2020) helps us think through the ethical, pastoral, and legal implications of the decisions we face. Are the demands of the magistrate in conflict with the demands of Christ? What are the primary
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The Lord Jesus suffered so that His gathered Church will worship Him. The magistrate has prohibited gatherings, including the congregational worship of Jesus Christ. The webinar video below (recorded on May 14, 2020) helps us think through the ethical, pastoral, and legal implications of the decisions we face. Are the demands of the magistrate in conflict with the demands of Christ? What are the primary duties of Christians and churches? Historically and legally, what are the rights of Canadians? Will the call to worship ever trump the magistrate’s quarantine? Pastors Aaron Rock and Jacob Reaume, along with constitutional lawyer James Kitchen, discuss these urgent questions and more.

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A Solemn Call to Prayer and Fasting from the Elders of Trinity Bible Chapel https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/a-solemn-call-to-prayer-and-fasting-from-the-elders-of-trinity-bible-chapel/ Fri, 01 May 2020 12:26:19 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11637 Has there ever been a time when the Church, the world-over, has not gathered for public worship and the ordinances for two consecutive months, including the season of Easter?  She has gone through plague and persecution over the course of millennia, but now she has ceased to gather. “Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?” (Joel 1:2).
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Has there ever been a time when the Church, the world-over, has not gathered for public worship and the ordinances for two consecutive months, including the season of Easter?  She has gone through plague and persecution over the course of millennia, but now she has ceased to gather.

“Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?” (Joel 1:2). “Such a thing has never happened or been seen” (Judges 19:30).

When this started, we guessed that the contagion might be the judgment of God. Then we wondered if it was the economic impact of the magistrate’s reaction that was God’s judgment. As we pondered it more, we thought it was the mad panic of the people. While we continue to believe that all of that is evidence of the visitation of divine wrath, we are of the persuasion now that the closing of the churches is the most cataclysmic event of all. There are spiritual forces behind this. For eight weeks, Christians have not gathered for public worship, prayer, baptisms, or the Lord’s Supper. We have not gathered to pray together in the day of our nation’s greatest need.

The Church was declared a non-essential service, and we suspect that is likely because the Church has not perceived herself as an essential service, even though it cost the precious blood of Christ to gather her.  When people, even professing Christians, call the Church unessential, what are they saying about the blood of our Saviour?

One week ago, our elders politely requested that the authorities work with us to open our church in a responsible way.  While two mayors have replied, we are yet to hear from anyone in authority who is willing to collaborate with us.

Has such a thing ever happened in Israel?

The Elders of Trinity Bible Chapel are calling the congregation to a solemn day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday, May 6. We ask that you fast from after supper on May 5 until supper on May 6.

“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD” (Joel 1:14).

During this time of prayer and fasting, we call the congregation to pray specifically:

  • That God would give wisdom, patience, unity, and courage to the elders as we seek to discern how best to obey our mandate from heaven to gather as a church and participate in the ordinances while under the present demands of our magistrate.
  • That, as we continually welcome the judgment of God, He would reveal what sins we must repent of.
  • That we as a church would be holy and sanctified and that heads of household would carefully shepherd their families through this dark time.

Considering that the magistrate has prohibited the gathering of more than 5 people, and so long as your conscience permits and you do so responsibly, you might consider gathering with others for this solemn time of prayer and fasting.

May God have mercy on us all.

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Open Letter to Civil Magistrates from Elders of Trinity Bible Chapel https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/open-letter-to-civil-magistrates-from-elders-of-trinity-bible-chapel/ Fri, 24 Apr 2020 16:23:32 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11563 In a sincere attempt to respectfully work with our civil magistrates under their COVID-19 measures, while desiring to uphold our mandate from heaven to gather for worship and the ordinances, the elders/pastors of Trinity Bible Chapel have sent the following correspondence to all levels of government, signed by each elder/pastor on church letterhead.    April 23, 2020 RE: Worship Services and COVID-19 Attention: Prime Minister
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In a sincere attempt to respectfully work with our civil magistrates under their COVID-19 measures, while desiring to uphold our mandate from heaven to gather for worship and the ordinances, the elders/pastors of Trinity Bible Chapel have sent the following correspondence to all levels of government, signed by each elder/pastor on church letterhead.

  

April 23, 2020

RE: Worship Services and COVID-19

Attention:
Prime Minister of Canada – Hon. Justin Trudeau and local MPs
Premier of Ontario – Hon. Doug Ford and local MPPs
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada – Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Medical Health Officer of Ontario – Dr. David Williams
Local Mayors of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Guelph & Woolwich
Region of Waterloo Public Medical Health Officer – Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang
Region of Waterloo Health Managers

 

Dear Governing Authorities:

Please be assured that you have our sincere thanks, support and prayers during this unprecedented time of isolation due to COVID-19. You are indeed well aware of the huge social and financial implications that this crisis has on Canadian individuals and institutions.

As countries around the world are gradually lifting some of the more restrictive measures that have been put in place, we want to express to you how eager we are to work with you so that we, too, can gather in face to face worship services.

Experts agree, a quarantine can help to keep people from getting the virus. It can, however, also be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health. Cabin fever and depression can become the unintended consequences of isolation. Solitary confinement, for example, is now deemed cruel and unusual by the federal government and medical professionals. We desperately need the company of others to sustain our well-being.

We concur with scientists who warn of a potential “echo-pandemic.” Social ills could be rising soon, such as; substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide and general despair.

We do not need to belabour these points. You are also keenly aware, that matters of personal faith are cherished and shared in community. Online communication helps but it is not a satisfactory substitute. This past Easter season was particularly difficult, as you can imagine.  Furthermore, we have not been able to practice ordinances like baptism and partake in the Lord’s Supper/Communion.

Today, all informed people agree with our Lord’s words when He quoted a passage  (Deuteronomy 8:3) which was about 1,500 years before He lived on earth: “Man shall not live by bread alone …” (Matthew 4:4).

We have observed how other essential services, such as grocery stores, have been operating during this time. They practice social-distancing, which we can also practice, and much more. We have a team of enthusiastic volunteers motivated by a high calling to serve and protect our congregation. Please see the attached addendum that outlines potential COVID-19 protocols for a worship service. We will gladly receive further guidelines and instructions from our local health authorities.

If grocery stores can remain open with certain protocols, worship services can do the same.

We continue to respect your important leadership role. Our operations remain compliant with your instructions, keeping ourselves, fellow citizens and neighbours safe. It is our desire that you can similarly respect our roles as leaders within our faith community, trusting us to practice physical distancing when being together for a worship service.

Please let us know at your earliest convenience if the measures in the addendum are sufficient to conduct our next worship service.

We continue to pray to the Creator, our Heavenly Father, being thankful for your commitment to protect us all and that He will give you wisdom and protect you in the days ahead.

Yours sincerely,

TRINITY BIBLE CHAPEL

Jacob Reaume, Sr. Pastor

Will Schuurman, Associate Pastor

Randy Frey, Pastor of Christian Education

Chris Cattle, Elder Chairman

Jeff Bauman, Elder

Siva Gnanananthan, Elder, Secretary

 

cc.
Members of Parliament:
Bardish Chagger, Waterloo
Tim Louis, Kitchener-Conestoga
Raj Saini, Kitchener Centre
Marwan Tabbara, Kitchener South-Hespeler
Bryan May, Cambridge
Lloyd Longfield, Guelph

Dave Mackenzie, Oxford
John Nater, Perth-Wellington
Michael Chong, Wellington-Halton Hills
Members of Provincial Parliament:
Catherine Fife, Waterloo
Mike Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga
Amy Fee, Kitchener South-Hespeler
Belinda Karahalios, Cambridge
Mike Schreiner, Guelph
Ernie Hardeman, Oxford
Randy Pettapiece, Perth-Wellington
Ted Arnott, Wellington-Halton Hills

Mayors:
Dave Jaworsky, Waterloo
Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener
Cam Guthrie, Guelph
Kathryn McGarry. Cambridge
Sandy Shantz, Woolwich Township
Julie Kalbfleisch, Manager, Information & Communications, Region of Waterloo Public Health
Aldo Franco, Manager, Health Protection & Investigation, Region of Waterloo Public Health

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Updated Response to Coronavirus Pandemic https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/updated-response-to-coronavirus-pandemic/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 13:18:33 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11197 Whereas Woodland Christian High School has shut down facilities until April 6 and whereas the Premier of Ontario has asked that gatherings over 50 people be cancelled, we will cancel all public church gatherings (including youth ministry) until at least April 6. Whereas the Prime Minister of Canada has recommended that all who can work from home should and whereas our staff can do a
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  • Whereas Woodland Christian High School has shut down facilities until April 6 and whereas the Premier of Ontario has asked that gatherings over 50 people be cancelled, we will cancel all public church gatherings (including youth ministry) until at least April 6.
  • Whereas the Prime Minister of Canada has recommended that all who can work from home should and whereas our staff can do a lot of work from home and whereas our present office spaces are very tight, all staff are permitted to work from home until further notice. They can still work in the office, but they have the option.  All telephone calls to the office will be forwarded to Kristin Vanderboor’s cell phone.
  • Whereas all levels of government have asked that we socially distance, we recommend that all small groups not meet until further notice.  Pastor Will is to provide instructions for small groups who would like to meet virtually.
  • In the absence of church gatherings, the staff will lead an online service through YouTube. It will entail songs led by John Maggs, pastoral prayer, Scripture readings, announcements, an online offering, an online connection card, preaching, and a few other elements.  The service will be available online for viewing on the Lord’s Day from 9:00 AM until the end of the day.  We ask that all families gather together to participate in a virtual church service on YouTube.  After Sunday, only the sermon will be available on Youtube, as well as on our podcast.
  • The staff has divided up a list of all members and all small group members. All members and small group members will receive regular contact from church staff to see how they are doing and receive spiritual encouragement.  If you are not a member or are not a small group member and if you would like to be contacted by church staff, please let Kristin Vanderboor know (info@trinitybiblechapel.ca).

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COVID-19 Precautions for Sunday Services https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/covid-19-precautions-for-sunday-services/ Sat, 14 Mar 2020 18:06:27 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11174 I recently wrote a blog post with some pastoral encouragement and cautions about COVID-19.  This post is to provide some quick points to explain how our church is dealing with the pandemic. We are taking the recommendations of our governing authorities seriously, acknowledging that many people know much more about the situation than we do. We are taking the care of our flock seriously, and
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I recently wrote a blog post with some pastoral encouragement and cautions about COVID-19.  This post is to provide some quick points to explain how our church is dealing with the pandemic.

  1. We are taking the recommendations of our governing authorities seriously, acknowledging that many people know much more about the situation than we do.
  2. We are taking the care of our flock seriously, and we will make adjustments to our decisions as information changes.  Please check website for details, as we will have a special COVID-19 page set up shortly.
  3. The Province of Ontario has recommended that gatherings in excess of 250 people be cancelled.  We do not anticipate having 250 people in one service, given that university students have gone home and that others will choose to stay home.
  4. We advise that the weak and elderly take precautions and stay home.
  5. If you are uncomfortable being in public or attending church amidst the pandemic, we don’t expect you to be at church tomorrow.
  6. Our services will proceed as scheduled, with a few precautions.
  7. Hand sanitizer will be readily available throughout the facility.
  8. Greeters and ushers will be instructed not to initiate physical contact and only to reciprocate on another’s initiative at their discretion.
  9. We will sanitize door handles and taps between services.
  10. Greeters will open and close doors for people, and inside doors will be left open.
  11. We will not permit any sick children in the children’s ministry.
  12. We advise that all people who display cold/flu-like symptoms stay home.
  13. We will pass the offering plates, and if that concerns you we advise you refrain from attending church or bring gloves or use hand sanitizer immediately after touching the bags.
  14. We will not pass out the connection folder.  If you would like to provide a prayer request, the folders will be available at our welcome and connection tables.  You can also contact the church office with prayer requests (info@trinitybiblechapel.ca).
  15. Our mothers taught most of us to cover our mouths when we cough/sneeze, wash our hands frequently, and not to stick our fingers in our noses or mouths.  Let’s obey mom.

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Pastoral Guidance and the Pandemic https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/pastoral-guidance-and-the-pandemic/ Thu, 12 Mar 2020 18:49:54 +0000 https://trinitybiblechapel.ca/?p=11165 Already, this virus appears to be one of the most economically and socially disruptive events in my lifetime.  Concerned about how this will unfold over the spring and summer, many are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

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Over the last several weeks, I have personally struggled to gauge the severity of the spread of the coronavirus.  It is a virus that originated in Wuhan, China, and it is now considered a pandemic.

I am increasingly wary of media and government, largely due to what I perceive as unbalanced reporting and distasteful priorities.  With all the hype, I have remained calm and even mildly cynical.  My family has purchased some extra essential supplies, mostly because we’ve been more concerned about a panpanic than a pandemic.

Then, yesterday, I read a startling report from Italy about the spread of the virus among Italians.  Hospitals are turning away patients.  Healthcare workers are becoming sick.  Cities have essentially shutdown.

Today, we learned that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, will halt all flights to the USA from the European continent to mitigate the pandemic.  The National Basketball Association has now postponed its season.  So has the National Hockey League.  Locally, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is cancelled, and we have three confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Waterloo Region.

Already, this virus appears to be one of the most economically and socially disruptive events in my lifetime.  Concerned about how this will unfold over the spring and summer, many are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

Mortality rates of the virus appear to be roughly 3%.  That is a significantly higher mortality rate than the flu, but this is certainly not even near the mortality rates that occurred during black death or the plague.

Alas, my job is not to discuss the virus and it spread.  There are others much more informed and qualified.  My job is to discuss our church’s response to the pandemic.

The plan is for our Sunday services to be on schedule.  We hope to have hand sanitizer available near ushers and greeters.  We will instruct our ushers and greeters to not initiate physical contact, like handshakes or hugs.  If someone else initiates physical contact, the ushers and greeters may or may not reciprocate at their own discretion.  There is nothing shameful about saying, “Due to health concerns, I’d rather not shake hands.  But I am so thankful to see you and have Christian fellowship with you this morning.”

My mother taught me to frequently scrub my hands, to cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze, and to not stick my fingers into my mouth or nose.  Such motherly wisdom seems even more valuable these days.

I do have a pastoral concern for the weak and elderly among us.  I have always placed a high priority on church attendance.  It is commanded in Scripture, and it is good for our souls.  However, pastorally I am concerned that the most vulnerable among us not feel pressure to be in public or even at church.  Please don’t feel guilt for staying home, if you are weak or elderly.  If you have a family member or small group member or friend in the church who falls within this category, please advise them accordingly.  If you know of someone staying home, please consider helping them with shopping.  If you do decide to stay home or if you know someone who decides to stay home, could you please let me know?  An elder, another pastor, or I would be delighted to visit the housebound during the week, for prayer, Scripture reading, and encouragement.

For those who do possess signs of sickness or who have traveled by air or who have been exposed to persons or geographical areas infected by the coronavirus, you should self-quarantine for a time.  If that is you, please let me know.  I want to minister to you as best as I can.

At these times, we need reminders to put our confidence in our God.  King Asa was one of Judah’s better kings.  He did, nonetheless, have his shortcomings.  He once sinned by turning to medical professionals before he turned to the Lord:

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady became increasingly severe. Yet even in his illness he did not seek the LORD, but only the physicians.  So in the forty-first year of his reign, Asa died and rested with his fathers. (2 Chronicles 16:12–13).

God has kindly given us medicine, and for that we are thankful.  But medicine is not God.  Medicine has the power to kill some viruses, but only God can give us life and healing.  We can easily place our hope in the wrong places at times like this.  Government, doctors, and pharmaceuticals can easily become our saviour and hope.  That is idolatry, and God is jealous for our affections.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

The instability has created concern over potential breaks in our food supplies due to shipping and production disruptions.   No family should panic.  But each family should prepare.  We should trust the Lord and keep the cupboards full.

As we think about government and society, I am reminded that God often sends plagues in judgment of a wicked people.  He sent plagues to judge Pharaoh and Egypt.   In Numbers 25, God sent a plague that killed 24,000 in one day for their sexual immorality.  In 2 Samuel 24, God sent a plague that killed 70,000 men in judgment for King David’s sin.  The fourth horseman of the apocalypse brings death by pestilence (Revelation 6:8).

Now is an appropriate time for our government and society to repent of its distasteful and godless priorities.  We live in a nation that has intentionally and overtly rejected the rule of God, even to the point of celebrating its own rebellion.  God’s judgments often start as a small warning, and their severity escalates incrementally over time.  He is patient, but his patience only lasts for a season.

As for Christians, especially during times of crisis and public fear, the Lord Jesus indicates that we will remain meek.  “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Meekness is a quiet trust in God, especially amidst crisis or opposition.  If this is a crisis, our faith remains confident and our temper quiet.  We know our God, and we know He reigns supreme over every atom and every virus.  Viruses spread at His command, and viruses halt at His command.

He has proven Himself trustworthy for generations.  His Church has already come through persecution, famine, and plague.  She continues to flourish.  As Noah traveled on the waves of the sea to find solid ground on Mount Ararat and a bright world of opportunity after the storm, so will the Church of God.  The waves appear to be chaotic, but God sits enthroned above them.  The waves are His servants to carry His people to higher ground and brighter times.

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

May the LORD give strength to his people!

May the LORD bless his people with peace!

(Psalm 29:10–11)

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