A Woolwich church continues to offer in-person services, defying provincial regulations and a court order. Trinity Bible Chapel held two services last Sunday, with Waterloo Regional Police observing but making no move to shut them down.
In a media briefing Monday, Chief Bryan Larkin said police are taking a “strategic approach” to the situation, noting concerns about the safety of officers in breaking up a gathering of some 300 to 600 people.
The church and six of its elders have already been charged for previous in-person gatherings in violation of lockdown orders. A day after the lockdown went into effect on December 26, Waterloo Regional Police visited the church at 1373 Lobsinger Line and observed breaches of the province-wide shutdown restrictions, which limit congregations to 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors. On December 30, police charged six members of the church.
Since that time, province-wide emergency measures have been put in place, but the church gathered large crowds for a third week, most recently on January 24.
The group made its intentions known in advance, posting information online that the church intended to defy the law.
“People are lonely, afraid, despairing of life itself, and facing financial ruin, among many other deprivations and tribulations. This is all during the darkest and coldest season of the year. If ever our fellow Ontarians needed hope, it is now. Out of neighbourly love, I am personally openly inviting anyone and everyone to experience the hope of the Gospel and the warmth of Christian worship at Trinity Bible Chapel this Sunday during our two Lord’s Day services at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.,” Jacob Reaume, Trinity’s senior pastor, wrote on the church’s website.
He argued church services and other social needs superseded lockdown measures deemed overkill.
“Ten months have passed since our provincial government called us to shutdown our regular lives for fourteen days to flatten the curve. Since that time, officials and media have provided regular updates on case and death counts. As of today, 98.03% of Canadians have not tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 99.9499% of Canadians have not died of COVID-19.”
The province has weighed in, with the Attorney General issues a court order to desist.
“I’m so disappointed that people would go there,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “I understand how important places of worship are, but they have to lead by example.”
10:16 AM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to a collision involving a pickup truck and a tractor trailer in Wellesley Township. The pickup truck was travelling south on Powell Road when the driver lost control due to icy road conditions as the vehicle approached a curve in the road. The vehicle then struck a tractor trailer that was travelling north on Powell Road. There were no reported injuries, and no charges were laid due to poor road conditions.
3:11 PM | Police were called to a single-vehicle collision in the area of Ritter Road and Floradale Road in Woolwich Township. Due to poor road conditions, the driver lost control of the vehicle, sliding off of the roadway and striking a stop sign on Ritter Road. There were no reported injuries. There were no charges laid.
9:30 AM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to Hutchison Road just north of William Hastings Line in Wellesley for a collision involving two vehicles. A Dodge Ram flatbed truck was travelling north on Hutchison Road when it collided with a Toyota Rav that had pulled out from a private drive. The Toyota was occupied by an 88-year-old man who sustained serious injuries and was transported to an out of region hospital by air ambulance. The truck was occupied by a 38-year-old male driver and a child who were uninjured. Hutchison Road between William Hastings Line and Boomer Line remains closed while emergency crews and collision investigators are on scene. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact the Traffic Services Unit at 519-570-9777 extension 8856 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. High winds and blowing snow were contributing factors to the collision. The investigation remains ongoing and charges are pending.
4:01 PM | A single-vehicle collision brought police to Lerch and Chilligo roads in Woolwich Township, where a work truck carrying gasoline struck a hydro pole. There were no reported physical injuries as a result of the collision. Barricades were set up to block roadways in the area as hydro crews work to fix the damaged pole and hydro lines.
11:45 PM | Waterloo Regional Police were notified of a single-vehicle collision at Nafziger Road and Carmel Koch Road in Wilmot Township. The vehicle was travelling north on Nafziger Road when the driver lost control as a result of drifting snow, sliding into the ditch on the left side of the road and coming to rest in the ditch after striking a road sign. The driver suffered minor injuries. As a result of the investigation, the driver was charged with ‘careless driving.’
11:43 AM | A complainant reported a theft to police, advising that both license plates were removed from his vehicle, which had been parked near Water Street in St. Jacobs, sometime between 10 a.m. and noon. When he returned, they were missing. The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
8:30 AM | Sometime between Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 6:30 a.m., unknown suspect(s) stole catalytic converters from two vehicles that were parked near Weber Street North in Woolwich Township. The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
9:52 PM | Police responded to the area of Boomer Line and Hutchison Road in Wellesley Township following a single-vehicle collision in which the driver swerved to avoid hitting an animal crossing the road. A female passenger was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.