Members of Trinity Bible Chapel charged for exceeding gathering limits
Church continues to gather following charges
Several members of Trinity Bible Chapel were charged last Wednesday for breaching province-wide shutdown restrictions, according to Waterloo Region Police, in consultation with Region of Waterloo Public Health.
Police said officers responded to a church gathering at 1373 Lobsinger Line in Waterloo on Sunday, Dec. 27, and observed a congregation that exceeded the number of permitted people in attendance.
During the lockdown, congregations are limited to 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
Police charged the members under the Reopening Ontario Act for exceeding gathering limitations.
Meanwhile, the church continues to congregate in person with two services on Sunday. The church said it will gather at 30 per cent building occupancy "in accordance with provincial requirements," as stated online.
It said pre-registration is not required and members are encouraged to self-screen.
Church responds to charges
The church detailed circumstances around the charges in an online release published on New Year's Eve.
It said six elders of the church were charged after police showed up at each of their homes one evening.
"We are not criminals," the release said.
"For years we have taught our children to respect police, and now our children and grandchildren are witness to their fathers and grandfathers receiving charges from police for worshipping Christ with our church. It is a dark day for Waterloo Region and Ontario."
The church said since it reopened in June, it has not reported an outbreak.
"Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and therefore we must honour and obey him above all earthly governments," the release said.
Earlier in December, the church released an open letter to municipal, principal and federal politicians, judges and others citing its commitment to remain open under a lockdown.
The church said a lockdown order on the church would be "an unconstitutional and unlawful restriction of religious freedom."
The church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.