Police have charged Windsor pastor Aaron Rock of Harvest Bible Church with breaking COVID-19 rules under the 'Reopening Ontario Act' following a church service last Sunday.
The church issued a response in their news release, stating that "the fine will be assigned by the court and ranges from $10,000.00 to $100,000.00 and one year in prison. To our knowledge this is the first time that any Ontario pastor has been charged for fulfilling his God-assigned duties at a church. Police also informed us that they will bar our congregation from entering the church on Christmas Eve, contrary to Section 176 of the Criminal Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are deeply grieved by these unlawful and immoral acts, having already been banned from meeting on Good Friday and Easter Sunday."
The release continued by stating that the church would continue preaching regardless of the consequences. "Our elders have met, and we will issue an internal communication to our church family outlining some interim plans to help us get through the Christmas season before we head into the New Year. In the end, we will find ways to fulfil our Christian obligations even if we are forced underground or to practice further civil disobedience. In the meantime we will continue to fight against injustice and fight for the God-given freedoms and responsibilities of the Christian church. The Church is, and shall remain, a free institution under the lordship of Jesus Christ and an essential service for all of humanity."
According to the Windsor Star, around 50 or 60 cars arrived in the church parking lot shortly before the Christmas Eve service was set to begin. Windsor police were present and monitoring the situation, but did not take action. An officer said the service was being live streamed so people could remain in their vehicles and listen to it.
So far, around $35,000 dollars have been raised to help pay for legal fees.