Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier is continuing his anti-lockdown protests by attending an in-person service at a Waterloo, ON church, even as such services are currently prohibited under provincial law, and as the church and its leadership face several fines for contravening Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) laws put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Hillier says he attended the 9 A.M. service at Waterloo’s Trinity Bible Chapel on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 following an open invitation put out by the church on its website.
Trinity Bible Chapel’s Senior Pastor, Jacob Reaume, acknowledged Hillier’s presence during the service. “Our Christ has taught us to honour those who are in authority, and so I do honour the MPP of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier, who has decided to join us this morning. And Randy has been more vocally supportive of our desire to gather as a church than the majority of pastors in Ontario. A year ago, who would have thought that a prominent elected official would on the internet issue an open invitation to come to Trinity Bible Chapel to hear the good news of Jesus Christ?”
Six of the church’s elders are currently facing charges under Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act for holding in-person church services on Sunday, Dec. 27, according to the church. “Officers from the Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) showed up at each of our homes last night at roughly 8 P.M. and gave us each a summons to court,” the church said in a statement dated Dec. 31, 2020. “While other pastors in Ontario have faced similar charges under the ROA for holding church services, to our knowledge this is the first time that each and every member of an entire elders board has been charged for gathering a church to worship.”
The church was charged a second time the following week. “This week two pastors of Trinity Bible Chapel received two charges each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act on Jan. 3, 2021. An additional pastor, three additional elders, and the church itself received one charge each for violating the Reopening Ontario Act on the same date,” the church said in a press release dated Jan. 8, 2021. Each of the personal charges carries a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year in jail, while the charge to the church carries a maximum fine of $10,000,000 if convicted.
“Our congregation gathered for worship from June 14, 2020 until Dec. 24, 2020 with no reported outbreak of COVID-19 and with no interference from the authorities. The only difference is that the Province of Ontario entered its second lockdown on Dec. 26, 2020,” the church said.
The elders and the church say they have retained legal counsel from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF). Following the second set of charges, the church decided to cancel in-person church services. “Being advised by the JCCF, we will not hold in-person gatherings in excess of 10 persons at Trinity Bible Chapel, commencing immediately, until the end of the current lockdown period on Jan. 23. We plan to conduct drive-in services on the Lord’s Day,” the church said in the Jan. 8, 2021 release.
Then, on Jan. 22, 2021, following the province’s notification that the lockdown rules were being extended for a further 30 days, the church announced that they would be open for in-person services the subsequent Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, and posted an open invitation. On Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, Hillier confirmed he would be attending the church services and invited others to attend. “We are happy to accept this invitation and hope many others will join us,” said Hillier in a social media post. On Sunday morning, Hillier posted a photo appearing to be from inside the church, showing over 50 unmasked individuals, some gathered in large groups within close proximity to each other.
Hillier himself is also facing public scrutiny and charges under the Reopening Ontario Act after allegedly organizing an anti-COVID-19 lockdown rally in Toronto’s Queen’s Park on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Hillier has also faced public criticism for allegedly hosting an in-person family Christmas gathering with numbers exceeding public health rules, but no charges have been laid following that event.
Kingstonist has reached out to Hillier’s office for further comment, but has not yet received a response at this time. More to come.