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Woolwich pastor faces fine of up to $100,000 for Sunday service ignoring COVID-19 lockdown

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Ford says Waterloo church accused of holding in-person service was 'careless and irresponsible’ – Jan 25, 2021

Waterloo Region issued nine tickets to members of the Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich, Ont., for holding services on Sunday in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to Waterloo Region.

Waterloo Region spokesperson TJ Miller told Global News in an email that five elders, pastor Jacob Reaume and the Trinity Bible Chapel corporation have all been charged under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Read more: Doug Ford issues warning to Woolwich church — ‘there will be consequences’

The church has been in the news previously — and has even attracted comment from Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

As for the region, it took things to a different level this time as it attempts to get Trinity Bible Chapel to follow an Ontario order that hundreds of other religious institutions across the province have been able to keep.

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“The Region of Waterloo has also charged the pastor and one elder under Ontario Regulation 82/20 for attending a gathering of more than 10,” Miller said.

If convicted of hosting or organizing an in-person gathering of more than 10 people, the pastor and the elder each face a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000.

On Monday, Waterloo Regional Police chief Bryan Larkin told reporters there were between 300 and 600 people at Trinity Bible Chapel on Sunday as it held two services.

The church is also facing legal issues from the province as well.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office confirmed that an injunction was issued last Friday restraining the Trinity Bible Chapel from holding gatherings of more than 10 people.

Read more: Adult sex store, church among those busted in Waterloo Region for ignoring COVID-19 orders

“Church services were held at Trinity Bible Chapel on Sunday, January 24, 2021, despite the injunction order,” the spokesperson told Global News in an email.

“On January 27, 2021, the motion for contempt proceeded. The Court made findings of contempt against all Respondents, with reasons to follow.”

Sentencing for the matter will take place in February.

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The region says as part of these contempt proceedings, Trinity Bible Chapel and the other named respondents agreed to not hold any further services.

The government of Ontario declared a state of emergency and imposed a stay-at-home order on Jan. 12, banning indoor gatherings and activities including religious services.

Some religious services, such as weddings and funerals, are permitted provided they include no more than 10 people and physical distancing can be maintained.

The rules apply to the entire province and will remain in effect until at least Feb. 11.

— With files from Canadian Press