‘God Has Been Forgotten’: Canadian Church Fined $66,000 for Holding Outdoor Services against COVID-19 Restrictions

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The Church of God congregation in Aylmer, Ontario, held outdoor services on its property on May 16, May 23 and May 30 after a court ordered the doors locked because members were meeting indoors in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. 

With its doors locked by order of the government, the church members went outside.

“Our building may be locked, but our God deserves all honour, glory, and praise,” the church said in a May 15 Facebook post. “The Church must gather!” 

Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas ordered the church and two of its officials to pay $66,000 after they violated provincial stay-at-home orders, according to Canadian radio station 980 CFPL.

The $66,000 fine is on top of a $100,000 fine received by the church and its officials on May 14. 

Police monitored the outdoor services and counted attendees. On May 30, 283 attended. On May 23, it was more than 300. On May 16, it was 400-plus. Local media have reported on each violation.

“Aylmer Police will actively pursue further options to ensure compliance with emergency orders of this particular church and participants in order to protect the community from harm,” police said in late May, according to CFPL. 

In April, Justice Bruce Thomas found the church in contempt of court and ordered it to stop meeting. The congregation, though, says it has a biblical obligation to gather. 

The church’s pastor, Henry Hildebrandt, appeared on a live Facebook video on May 14, reading from Acts 5 and saying the congregation would “obey God rather than men.”  

The leaders of the country and the province, he said, have “forgotten” God.

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