We have had some really extravagant worship services over the past few months. A service we held on January 24, 2021, cost us $83,000. It was pricey, and we believe that Jesus is worthy of extravagance. After all, He purchased us for the extravagant price of His very own blood.
On April 25, 2021, we held another extravagant worship service. That service was held in contempt of another court order. We were sentenced today. Here’s how it breaks down: both Pastor Will and I owe $10,000 each, 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. 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.
I’ve heard some people say crazy things like, “Giving up our worship services is a small price right now, just a little inconvenience.” The problem with that is that worship services are not ours to give up. They belong to Jesus. He purchased His worship with the price of His own blood. That mindset only reveals how man-centered many are in their view of church and worship. Really and truly, the mindset should be my money and my comfort and my life are small prices to pay right now to worship Jesus. He’s worth it.
My highlight today was when I was given the opportunity to personally address the court. Here’s basically what I said:
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. 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.
Jesus purchased us by His own blood. Our sincerely held belief is that we are thus beholden to Him because He owns us and the church. We do not view ourselves as owners of the church. Much rather we are stewards. The One who owns the church — the church not being the building, but the people and their worship — He has entrusted her to us. Therefore, first and foremost we are required to submit to and uphold His supreme Headship over the church and His worship. In these two infractions, we have sought to honour our Saviour.
Our sincere desire is to avoid further penalties and offence, but our consciences have captivated us to obey God over man.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address this court your Honour.
Jesus said, “…you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:18). 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.
We intend no disrespect to our courts or civil magistrates. We only wish to assert in word and deed that Christ is King of kings, Lord of lords, and Judge of judges. Those who are in authority have a derived authority, and that derived authority comes from God. It has been and will continue to be the detriment of our nation to fail to recognize as much.
Some are wondering about whether we will get the locks off the building. We’ve been meeting outside for a while, because the government stole our building. 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 we 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. Today the judge did not require an undertaking to regain entry to our building, so there’s a chance we could be in soon. But there’s some things we need to iron out. Stay tuned for more details…
If you would like to help cover the costs please visit the Go Fund Me page that a member of our church setup (click here), but please note you will not receive a receipt for the Go Fund Me contributions. Money donated to the Go Fund Me can be used to cover all and any of these fines.
If you would like to make a larger contribution to our legal fund, you can donate to the church (click here and select legal fund), but please note that, while the church will provide a tax receipt, money donated to the church cannot be used to cover the fines of the individual elders or pastors. It can be used to cover church fines.
We remain grateful to the legal team at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. They have been representing us pro bono throughout this ordeal. We ask that you please consider donating to them to support their ongoing advocacy for liberty (click here and select the “defending religious freedom” campaign).