Canadian authorities have imposed more fines on a church in Ontario for defying lockdown instructions.
According to the Christian Post, The Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario was fined $66,000 for outdoor worship after its church building was ordered shut by a court, with the church and its officials receiving a total penalty of $183,000.
In a YouTube video released Wednesday, Pastor Henry Hildebrandt revealed that his church had been fined because he refused to comply with current COVID-19 lockdown directives.
"We were back in court on Monday," he said in his announcement. "We were back in court earlier in May, and the judge had fined us $117,000, and he also ordered that our meetinghouse would be locked, which happened later on that day."
Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas decided on April 30 that the church had disobeyed his directives after seeing a number of Sunday services that the church had aired online, earlier reports say.
Global News reported that for in-person religious services, the lockdown orders restrict worship groups to ten persons. The April 25 service drew over 100 unmasked congregants, prompting Thomas to declare the church in contempt five days later.
The church, as well as two of its pastors, were fined more than $100,000 on May 14, and the building was forced to be shut down until the government permits for indoor church events with a capacity of 30%. Nonetheless, the Church of God held outside worship meetings after the doors to their building had been shut.
On Monday, the church went to court for a second contempt ruling, after it was accused of defying Thomas' order shortly after the penalties were passed.
Aylmer police have issued charges on the three Sundays after the penalties were imposed for outdoor services performed at the church on May 16, May 23, and May 30, all of which were broadcast live online by the church.
Pastor Hildebrandt justified the continuation of services. Additionally, the possibility of increased penalties, according to him, will not dissuade the Church of God from continuing to perform church services.
"We must obey God rather than man," he said. "We must continue to have meetings, which we did on the 16th of May, and he now fined us another $66,000, total now coming up to $183,000."
Hildebrandt noted that the Church of God's outdoor worship services on the two succeeding Sundays were not discussed at Monday's court hearing, adding that he was "not sure if that's still coming."
"Maybe there is a way how He works it out where it doesn't get paid. If it needs to be paid, then there will be a way to do it. Whatever He wants, we are seeking His will in the matter to know what we need to do with that," he said.
As for the most recent outdoor worship service, he believed that between 850 and 1,000 individuals attended.
"I wish that all of us would look with open eyes to see what is happening," he said. "A revival has begun, an awakening is taking place, and God is using these things to kick out lukewarm Christianity, and like the Book of Revelation says, 'It's either we are hot, or we are cold.'"