“…you joyfully accepted the plundering or your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” (Hebrews 10:34)
A judge has ordered a Canadian church to cease worshipping together in their church building, granting the province of Ontario the authority to bar the doors and prevent any congregants from entering. This is the end result after months of fines and threats of fines have proved unsuccessful in coercing the church to cease gathering together as one, an act that is in contravention to provincial lockdown orders that limit church gatherings to 10 people for both indoor and outdoor services regardless of size or capacity limits.
In many ways, Trinity Bible Chapel (TBC) in Waterloo, Ontario has faced the most opposition and steepest price out of any church in North America for being open. GraceLife Church in Alberta had their pastor arrested and spend over a month in jail, and their church is likewise now taken away, but TBC has endured absolutely brutal, punishing, unending fines for being open.
They’re facing 40 million dollars in potential fines right now. 40 million. And while the large multi-million dollar fines might possibly be appealed if granted – some of their large fines like the $83,000 given for a single service cannot be waived, removed, or appealed. These crushing tickets are not just to the Church entity, but parishioner after parishioner is being handed crushing fines for daring to attend. These are crippling numbers, but they have not bent the will of the church.
So now they are having the church building taken away from them.
The judge in the case, Justice John Krawchenko, noted in his decision that the church must be locked up because if it remained open, “the risk of irreparable harm would be too great to ignore.”
In a public statement that everyone should read in full titled We lost the building but kept the church, Pastor Jacob Reaume recounts how they prayed for their own building for years and finally moved into it in the middle of the pandemic, sharing how “It was a time of great joy, and we looked forward to serving our community and worshipping our Saviour in this facility.” But now:
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…Our experience (with COVID) 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.
Pastor Reaume explains that while the motivations of the government are clear, they underestimate the body’s commitment to the public gathering and worship of Jesus, even as the judge in the case told them that they can do “virtual services” as an alternative.
The purpose of this seizure is to prevent us from meeting as a church. They believe that we will continue meeting in our facility, no matter the fines or the public shame heaped on us. We are willing to pay any price necessary to worship our Saviour because He is worth it. He died for us, and we want Him to receive a reward for His suffering. Churches used to sing songs like Charles Wesley’s “O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing” and mean it. We still do.
He continues, offering a master class in how believers ought to think about these things:
But it’s now cost us our facility. That’s after policemen sat outside our lot in cruisers on Sunday to chase our people down and ticket them after the service for gathering to worship. That’s after each elder received a ticket this past week for opening the church. That’s after the church itself received a ticket this week. That’s after we were convicted of our second count of contempt of court today. That’s after we’ve now received so many dozens of charges I’ve actually lost track. Combined we are facing over $40 million in fines with jail time. That’s not enough, so they’ve taken our building.
They took our building because they think that will stop us from worshipping. 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.
During that season we could have complied with all the nonsense protocols. But if we had done that, we would have already conceded the facility to the Province. The Province would have essentially owned not only our building, but also our fellowship and also our worship. We did not let them own our building. We did not let them own our worship. We did not let them own our fellowship. So they stole our building, at least temporarily. We’ll keep our worship. And we’ll keep our fellowship.
Many churches around these parts think they still own their buildings, but they already voluntarily handed their buildings and their people and their worship over to Caesar months ago. We just forced Caesar to come and take the building, but we’ve kept the church.
Caesar can have the brick and mortar. We’ve kept the church for Jesus. He who seeks to preserve his church will lose it, but he who loses the church for Christ’s sake will keep it.
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