You may remember that Trinity Bible Chapel in Ontario, Canada has been in trouble recently with the local authorities for holding worship services in violation of local COVID-19 closure orders. Millions of dollars in fines have already been levied against the church and its pastors and elders, which hasn’t stopped the congregation from continuing to gather together on Sundays to worship. However, last Friday the authorities used one of the most extreme tools of power they wield – they seized it and closed it by force.
This is the second church in Canada to be closed by authorities, after members of GraceLife Church near Edmonton, Alberta watched as police erected fencing around their sanctuary recently, in retaliation for ignoring local COVID lockdown orders in that province.
Jacob Reaume is the pastor of Trinity Bible Chapel, and in his church blog he noted that the congregation has only met in that building for the last 11 months. He called out the government for its actions in no uncertain terms.
“For some of those eleven months in our facility, we have met in contravention of provincial dictates,” he wrote. “We have participated in what the public health people consider high risk behaviour, namely the millennia old tradition of gathering weekly to worship our Creator. Not one of our pastors has ever buried someone who has died of COVID. We have around 600,000 people who live in this region. There are 588 active cases of COVID in the region, with 32 people in the ICU with COVID.
“That’s enough to deem the public worship of Jesus Christ dangerous and enough for the Province of Ontario to kick us off our land and bar our doors shut. I’m not saying we’ll never bury someone who dies of COVID. I’m not saying COVID hasn’t brought harm. I’m only saying our experience doesn’t line up with the hysteria whipped up by government and media, nor do the numbers warrant turning control of the Bride of Christ over to the Premier of Ontario.”
Reaume also noted that he and the church have been assessed over $40 million (Canadian), and that he faces potential jail time. Yet, he is confident that authorities cannot stop the worship of God.
“They took our building because they think that will stop us from worshipping,” Reaume said. “For twenty years our church has worshipped together each Lord’s Day, and we’ve only met in our own building for eleven months. So the best part of our history we have not owned a building. We managed just fine to gather together without our own building, and now we don’t have our own building again. The early church met in the catacombs under Rome. The Covenanters met in fields. John Bunyan led his services in forests. Churches find ways to worship together, as surely as water flows downhill.
“Caesar can have the brick and mortar. We’ve kept the church for Jesus.”
Please pray for the bold witness of the churches of Canada as they continue to negotiate the delicate boundaries of Jesus’ admonition in Mark 12:17 to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
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