Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PASTOR BEING CHARGED AND CHURCH CLOSED ON CHRISTMAS EVE
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.
As church leaders responsible for the care of hundreds of souls, we are burdened for the challenges that face so many who are losing jobs, struggling to cope with fear and despair, and being robbed of spiritual support. We believe that God will call provincial officials and the Premier to account for these irrational, illegal, and irresponsible acts, and for refusing to recognize the essential work of the church. To rescue the world from one viral threat, officials are willing to deny people gainful employment, deny people with mental illness and suicidal inclinations essential support, and deny the in-person proclamation of the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is an abhorrent offense to humanity and an affront to religious liberties. To add to this injustice, hardware stores and big box stores remain open so that people can buy their last-minute Christmas gifts, while the church is banned from collectively worshipping the greatest Christmas gift ever given: the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a national disgrace.
While we are supportive of public protests, the hypocrisy of high ranking police officials and elected officials who attended public protests this spring in our own city, while barring Christian worship and public protests is discriminatory and unfair. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, tasked with enforcing public health measures and providing the public access to information, still refuses to respond to any of our written communication, while requesting that police close our premises. Their lack of service and balanced concern for our people is obvious.
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.
-Harvest Bible Church Windsor Elders Council