An Ontario court is forcing a defiant church in Aylmer, Ontario to lock its doors after the congregation repeatedly ignored public health orders and COVID-19 restrictions.
Justice Bruce Thomas passed down the ruling early Friday morning, citing Church of God Restoration Pastor Henry Hildebrandt’s past comments as “significantly aggravating.”
“The evidence makes it clear that Pastor Hildebrandt has control over his congregation,” said Justice Thomas.
“Henry Hildebrandt, as pastor of this church, is the leading force and unapologetic spokesperson for this offending activity.”
Hildebrandt and his congregation have been a prominent focal point in the debate around lockdowns in Ontario.
In Thomas’ ruling, the church was fined $35,000 while Hildebrandt received a fine of $10,000 along with an additional fine of $3,000 for Assistant Pastor Peter Wall.
Earlier this month, Trinity Bible Church of Waterloo was issued a similar order to lock its doors. Eventually that order was extended indefinitely due to the church’s opposition to lockdown measures.
Over the past year, Hildebrandt has continued to offer services to his congregation outside of the legal capacity restrictions currently in place for gatherings in Ontario.
As exclusively reported on by True North, this is not the first time that the government has attempted to have the church shut down.
In November, Aylmer’s local public health agency requested that the church voluntarily fetter its doors.
According to Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer Lisa Bildy, who represented the church in court, forcing the congregation to shut down is a “severe penalty.”
“Church is fundamental to these people, taking away their church is a severe penalty,” said Bildy.
The Church of God Restoration has also launched a constitutional challenge of lockdown measures alongside the Trinity Bible Church of Waterloo and the United Reform Church in Welland.
The court will hear the challenge on October 4, 2021 in St. Thomas, Ontario.