On Thursday, one of Waterloo Region’s by-law officers visited our church to hand deliver two new summonses to appear in court. One summons is for Trinity Bible Chapel, and the other summons is for me. Our offence? We worshipped the risen Christ together on Resurrection Sunday.
This is the church’s third summons. Each summons to the church carries a maximum penalty of $10 million. This is my sixth summons. Each summons to me carries a maximum penalty of $100,000 and one year in jail. You can do the math.
Speaking of math, local news reported, “According to Regional Chair Karen Redman Friday morning’s COVID-19 media briefing, the church is able to hold just under 600 people, meaning capacity under current stay-at-home orders would be 86.” For the record, our building is capable of holding way more than 600 people.
More to the point on government numbers, 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.
Local news reports that our mayor, Her Worship Sandy Shantz, has had a few things to say about our church recently:
Shantz adds she has received complaints from residents of Woolwich Township about Trinity Bible Chapel continuing to hold gatherings indoors that are in violation of current provincial orders.
“People aren’t happy,” she said, “they feel that their health is being put at risk by people gathering in groups like this, whether it’s a church or any other organization or group that’s gathering. It’s really putting people at risk. One person can transmit to very many people, and if you’re in a group, that just becomes exponential.”
I’ve reached out to our mayor several times and have received nothing substantive by way of reply. It’s just the typical stuff governments say, essentially telling us to do our part so we can get back to normal hopefully one day. When that one day is, nobody knows. At one point it was 15 days to flatten the curve. That was well over a year ago. The last email reply I received from the mayor was on January 28:
Hello Pastor Reaume
There are many ways to provide hope and joy besides meeting in person. Most other places of worship have been able to do just that. If Public Health requirements including the Reopening Ontario Act are followed, church buildings will re-open in due course. The more diligent we are with getting the virus under control, the sooner that will happen. Gatherings of people simply prolong the process. I trust you and the elders will find ways to connect with your congregation and with each other that adhere to Public Health requirements including the Reopening Ontario Act. Church is so much more than just a building or a meeting of a large group of people. As there are still charges pending before the courts, I am unable to meet with you at this time.
She can’t meet with me “at this time” because “there are still charges pending before the courts.” She’s right. We have 26 charges before the courts, and we’re facing maximum penalties of over $30 million with jail time. She can’t meet with us, but she can publicly discuss the outrageous thing we did on Resurrection Sunday, namely worshipping the risen Christ as a congregation like Christians have done for 2,000 years with or without the magistrate’s blessing.
Local media reports that our mayor says she’s received her share of complaints about us, and apparently she’s reading them. For your interest, her email address is SShantz@woolwich.ca.
Now returning to the unending discussion on COVID, none of our pastors have ever officiated one single COVID funeral. You’d think we would have had at least one COVID funeral, especially with all the people flocking to our church for gatherings deemed “unsafe” and potential super-spreaders. We’ve not had one single person in our church die of COVID. We thank God for that. And that’s not to say we’re immune to COVID. Nor is it to say no one will ever die of it. But it is to say the hysteria being whipped up by governments and media cannot be reconciled with our experience of reality.
In order to keep us safe from COVID, we had two by-law officers watching our church lot again this past Sunday. We were worshipping Jesus, and officers with binoculars were counting heads to keep us safe. One was to the southwest of our lot to observe the front door, and the other was to the northwest of our lot to observe the rear door. I wonder if I’ll receive another visit this week from our friends in by-law enforcement, who are all doing their part to keep us safe.
In an interesting twist, I submitted a freedom of information request to the Regional Municipality of Waterloo earlier this year. I wanted to know how much they were talking about me and Trinity Bible Chapel. I learned that in roughly a 10 month period, the regional government (not including the police services) had approximately 6,000 internal emails and 144 internal documents making reference to me, the church, and things pertaining to the ministry of the church. I haven’t requested to see all those emails yet, mainly because they want me to pay $4,500 to see them. But that’s a lot of internal chatter about one church in rural Waterloo Region. But if it keeps us safe, it’s likely a good use of resources.
We do not place our ultimate hope in governments and their plans to keep us safe. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. He shed His blood to purchase forgiveness for sinners. 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. Christ died for us sinners so we can have eternal abundant life. He owns us, and we are His joyful servants. He has forgiven us. We owe Him everything, especially His worship because He is worthy.
Feel free to donate to our church legal fund, click here. You can also donate to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (they’ve been representing us pro bono) here, and please make sure you select their “Defending Religious Freedom Campaign.”