Charges keep coming for Aylmer’s Church of God

Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt holds up a copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms during an outdoor service held May 23, 2020. Image from YouTube.

Fresh charges have been laid against the Church of God Restoration and two Aylmer men after the controversial church again defied provincial COVID-19 restrictions by hosting a large gathering.

The gathering was held on Sunday outside of the locked place of worship on John Street North. It is the seventh consecutive week the church has ignored pandemic rules that cap religious services at ten people and the second week the service has been held outside. The exterior doors to the church were locked May 14 in accordance with a court order issued by Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas, who found the church, its pastor, and assistant pastor in contempt for repeatedly holding in-person services.

The latest service was attended by more than 300 people, footage obtained by Aylmer police showed.

Video posted to pastor Henry Hildebrandt’s YouTube channel shows a choir of children and a choir of adults singing as people seated on the grass nearby watch. No face coverings are worn and no one appears to be physically distancing. Hildebrandt, 57, soon takes to the makeshift stage, at one point walking out onto the lawn holding up a large copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“We need judges in this country that will rise up in court and tell those unelected health officials, tell them, ‘we ain’t judging anything’ until we have found out what the Charter says,” Hildebrandt is heard telling the crowd.

The Church of God is now again charged as a corporation with failing to comply with a continued section 7.0.2 order under the Reopening Ontario Act. The same charge was issued against the church corporation last week.

Two Aylmer men, aged 57 and 37, have also been charged as individuals with failing to comply with a continued section 7.0.2 order under the Reopening Ontario Act. A contempt hearing is scheduled for May 31.

The church and Hildebrandt have gained notoriety throughout the pandemic for repeatedly disobeying the province’s COVID-19 lockdown rules. The continued services have resulted in charges being laid on multiple occasions since the start of the year.