On January 24, 2021, Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo, held a service unmasked and together as one congregation, violating the government’s shutdown order which at the time prohibited churches from gathering in more than 10 people. For that crime, they were fined $83,000 for contempt—not just the church entity, or the pastor, but all six members of the elder board were handed down fines. This is that breakdown:
Pastor Will and I each owe $5,000. Pastor Randy owes $4,000. Each of the other elders owe $3,000. The church itself owes $15,000. And we have been ordered to pay $45,000 to cover the legal fees of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
These are fines that are a done deal. Because they are for contempt charges they’re essentially unable to be appealed or waived, and are not theoretical “they could get fined up to…” but in fact are judgments rendered.
With that those expenses looming, the church received another court ruling against them on Tuesday July 27, explaining on their website:
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.
That’s $170,000 in real-time fines, and there are likely more on the way. We’ve written before how in many ways, Trinity Bible Chapel 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 James Coates arrested and spend over a month in jail. Fairview Baptist Church also had their church building taken away, and their pastor Tim Stephens served nearly 3 weeks in prison, but TBC has endured absolutely brutal, punishing, unending fines for being open, including facing $50 million dollars in potential fines right now.
Despite the blow, Pastor Jacob Rheaume says that they’ve counted the cost of staying open during the pandemic and insisting that Jesus is the head of the church, not the government.
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.
In an act of boldness and courage that should shame any pastor who shut down, and be a balm to the soul of those fellow men who resisted, he told the court this in response to the fines and being chastised for his keeping his church open:
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 honorable 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.
Praise God for this church, pastor, elders, and congregation for their model of faithfulness.
If you would like to help cover the costs, and have already given to your local church, please visit the Go Fund Me page. If you would like to make a larger contribution to their legal fund, you can donate to the church (click here and select legal fund),
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