Today I ask you to pray for Pastor James Coates who, for the 13th day in a row, sits in a solitary confinement cell in the Edmonton Remand Centre – a maximum security prison – while that same facility released over 500 prisoners in the past year due to COVID, including dangerous offender Clint Carifelle.
The hypocrisy of releasing violent offenders while imprisoning peaceful, God-fearing pastors is clearly lost on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his provincial government.
But I understand why authorities fear Pastor Coates far more than they fear ‘dangerous offenders’ like Clint Carifelle – Pastor Coates preaches an idea and ideas terrify governments more than any single criminal, or even any 500 criminals, for that matter.
“Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.”
— G.K. Chesterton
On this Lord’s Day I ask for you to pray for Pastor James Coates and for these pastors who, while not confined to a Canadian jail cell, are facing serious prison time if convicted for holding to their faith in a time of crisis.
Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, Church of God, Aylmer, Ontario
“People like Henry Hildebrandt, whether you agree with him or not, have taken a stand for those fundamental liberties which our western, liberal democracy is based on,” says Lisa Bildy, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Pastor Steve Richardson, Faith Presbyterian Church, Tillsonburg, Ontario
“To me there’s a very significant difference between whether or not we are required to wear masks and whether or not we’re allowed to gather for worship. As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t gather for worship, I’m sinning against God, so I have to gather,” says Pastor Richardson.
For the crimes he’s accused of, Pastor Richardson faces maximum penalties of two years in prison and/or a $200,000 fine.
The Pastors of the following churches, who go to court on March 1st, 2021, to challenge the constitutionality of BC’s ban on religious worship. These churches are fined $2,300 every Sunday for refusing to abide by this arbitrary restriction on religious freedom.
- Riverside Calvary Chapel
- Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
- Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack
- Free Grace Baptist Church
- Valley Heights Community Church
- 100 Mile House Baptist Church
Please pray for the Association of Reformed Political Action (ARPA) and their intervention in the BC churches case.
Please pray for the Pastor Jacob Reaume of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo, Ontario, who was fined $38,000 and were also ordered to pay $45,000 in government’s court costs.
Since we decided to re-open the church in June, implementing various COVID protocols in our services, we have not had a single outbreak traced back to our church. We thank God for that. Instead, we have heard a plethora of stories from many of our congregants about how they were negatively affected spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and financially during the first lockdown. On December 3, we informed our governing authorities that we cannot shut down the church again in an open letter entitled, “Here we Stand: The Church Must Meet.”
Please pray for Reverend Dr. Aaron Rock, Harvest Bible Church, Windsor, Ontario.
December 24, 2020
Yesterday our Lead Pastor, Rev. Dr. Aaron Rock, was officially informed by the Windsor Police Services that he has been charged under the Reopening Ontario Act for church services we held last Sunday at Harvest Bible Church (which observed strict health and safety protocols). 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.
Please pray for the Pastors and Deacons of Gateway Bible Baptist Church, Pembina Valley Baptist Church, Redeeming Grace Bible Church, Grace Covenant Church, Slavic Baptist Church, Christian Church of Morden, and Bible Baptist Church in Manitoba. These churches are challenging Manitoba’s lockdown orders.
The Justice Centre’s filed lawsuit alleges that Orders under The Public Health Act of Manitoba are outside of the authority of Manitoba, because law-making is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Legislature.
The lawsuit also states that Manitoba’s lockdown measures are not justified violations of the Charter-protected freedoms of conscience, religion, expression, and peaceful assembly.
Please pray for Pastor Joel Kykstra and the Wellandport United Reformed Church, Wellandport, Ontario
They’ve filed a charter challenge against Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions, arguing the limitations violate our religious freedoms and our right to freedom to assembly.
Please pray for Pastor Peter Youngren and the Toronto International Celebration Church, Toronto, Ontario. They filed a constitutional challenge to the Reopening Ontario Act in early December and lost an interim injunction against the restrictions on religious freedoms just before Christmas.
“Depression and other mental and behavioral issues due to isolation, increased drug use, increased suicide, pornography, economic devastation, small businesses lost, and many other hardships causes our hearts to break for the people suffering.
We want to care for those vulnerable to lockdowns and restrictions along with those vulnerable to COVID-19. Sadly, people have had their God-given responsibility for their own livelihoods and health choices taken away from them.
Many have been hindered from caring for themselves, their families, their aging parents, and their children due to government-imposed restrictions that have restricted the very freedoms the government has sworn to protect.”
Please pray for Rev. Dr. Patrick Schoenberger of Heights Baptist Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta, and Pastor David Adkins of Northside Baptist Church, Calgary, Alberta, who are challenging the constitutionality of Alberta’s COVID restrictions.
“In a free society, the government respects citizens as they exercise their freedom and responsibility to respond to a perceived crisis as they deem best for themselves and their loved ones. Arbitrary and authoritarian control, based on fearmongering by the government, only ever exacerbates the problems facing society, as we have seen for the last nine months.
“Politicians have not put forward any persuasive evidence that lockdowns have saved lives, but there is no question that lockdowns have caused grave harm to millions of Canadians suffering unemployment, poverty, cancelled surgeries, suicides, isolation and the loss of their liberty,” states Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
Please pray for Minister Tobias Tissen, Church of God, Steinbach, Manitoba, who was fined $10,000 for holding regular worship services.
“We’re not asking for special treatment. We’re asking for equal treatment and when we see different places being open … liquor stores and drugs being sold. For church to not be [considered] essential, I think that ought to get every Christian’s blood boiling.”
Please pray for Pastor Leon Fontaine of Springs Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who faces over $32,000 in fines for violating COVID restrictions. They have since abandoned in-person worship.
In a rare weekend ruling, Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench ruled against a request by Springs Church for a temporary stay of enforcement of the latest provincial public health order, which requires religious services to be only available online or via broadcasts and bans public gatherings of more than five people.
Please pray for Pastor Mike Thiessen of Grace Baptist Church in Alliston, Ontario. He faces a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year in prison for hosting a religious worship service in defiance of Ontario’s COVID restrictions.
Pastor Mike Thiessen was charged under Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) for holding a church service on Sunday, January 10. 2021. This personal charge carries a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year in jail.
Upon receiving legal advice, we have determined that these Orders effectively close the church for now. Elders are discussing ways for ministry to occur within our church family, but it is no longer realistic to meet at the building.
Please pray for Pastor Ike Unger of Deer Run Church in Leamington, Ontario, who was reportedly charged for holding a worship service in defiance of Ontario’s COVID restrictions, although I can’t find a news story confirming this, only one story saying it was ‘possible’ a case of COVID was linked to their church.
Please pray for the unidentified 50-year-old man from Old Colony Mennonite Church in Wheatley, Ontario, who was charged with failure to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.
Finally, please pray for the Pastors and congregations of all the churches and other places of worship who continue to meet despite the government’s Charter-violating COVID restrictions, as well as any churches are planning to re-open for regular worship services in the coming weeks.
If you know of other religious leaders of any faith who were fined or charged after holding a religious worship service anywhere in Canada, please let me know.