COVID-19: Aylmer, Ont., police charge 4 over Church of God gathering

Located southeast of London, Ont., Church of God has been the site of numerous charges related to COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic. via The Church of God at Aylmer/Facebook

Police in Aylmer, Ont., say four people are facing charges in connection with a public complaint about a large gathering at the Church of God.

According to police, officers arrived on scene at roughly 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to find 18 vehicles in the parking lot.

“While the officers were dealing with two individuals on the parking lot,” police said in a statement, “a group of 18 persons were observed exiting the church building.”

None of the individuals were wearing masks or practising social distancing, police say.

Police say a Toronto man, 42; a Toronto woman, 41; and two Aylmer men, 20 and 34, are charged with failing to comply with a continued Section 7.0.2 order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

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The investigation is ongoing and police say more charges are pending.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Aylmer church continues in-person services despite public health measures'
Coronavirus: Aylmer church continues in-person services despite public health measures

Tuesday’s gathering is the latest in a series of incidents involving the Church of God.

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In February, the church held a drive-in service after receiving an interim order from the Superior Court “restraining the Respondents from directly or indirectly contravening Ontario Regulation 82/20, by holding gatherings of more than 10 persons at, inside, or in conjunction with the operations of the Church.”

In late January, the church held an indoor, in-person service resulting in provincial charges against two men associated with the church.

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Earlier that month, a video posted on YouTube appeared to show roughly 100 people standing in the pews inside the church, with Pastor Henry Hildebrandt heard on video saying “we’re not having service, we’re just touring.” Days later, police reported that officers were in the process of issuing tickets.

Charges were also previously laid in connection with a church service on Dec. 27, 2020 and a resulting gathering on Jan. 6.

— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Kelly Wang.

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