NB church pastor arrested, church ordered closed for COVID non-compliance

Thanksgiving Sunday church services at His Tabernacle in New Brunswick were interrupted when authorities showed up to arrest the associate pastor, Cody Butler.

NB church pastor arrested, church ordered closed for COVID non-compliance
Facebook / Cory Raven
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After several days of harassment and the arrest of the associate pastor, His Tabernacle Family Church in Saint John was ordered shuttered by an order of the office of public safety under minister Dennis Landry. The church now faces fines of up to $20,400. The closure order locks the doors to the public until the church can be brought into compliance under section 3 of Preventative Measures - Public Health Act. Section 3 requires the church to enforce proof of vaccination to attend "indoor gatherings."  If a pastor declines to make every "responsible attempt" to ensure a congregation is vaccinated, the church and pastor must then limit attendance to 50% of capacity, provide contract tracing right down to the pew and row number to the Health Ministry, force the congregation to mask and social distance,  and prohibit singing. 

Section 15 of the Mandatory Order, also cited in the closure notice, requires the church to allow for police or public health officers to enter the premises to check for compliance.

Phil Hutchings, the founder and lead pastor of His Tabernacle Family Church Canada posted pictures to his personal Facebook page on Thanksgiving Monday morning showing New Brunswick public safety agents issuing a closure notice and affixing it to the doors of the church, with his text that noted: “THEY HAVE OFFICIALLY SHUT DOWN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES & COMMUNITY OUTREACHES & FEEDING PROGRAMS.”

His Tabernacle is now a client of Fight The Fines, Rebel News' civil liberties project in partnership with the registered Canadian charity, the Democracy Fund, where the congregation is receiving legal help at no cost to them to fight their tickets and closure notice. Visit www.FightTheFines.com to donate. All donations qualify for a charitable tax receipt. All funds go directly to The Democracy Fund.

Thanksgiving Sunday church services at His Tabernacle were interrupted when authorities showed up to arrest the associate pastor, Cody Butler. Video posted by Hutchings shows the pastor, dressed in a suit, being escorted out of the church by several officers to waiting police cars.

Sunday evening, images posted to Facebook show police surveilling the church. Last week, authorities interrupted services to inspect for COVID compliance. Hutchings has also posted videos of the police visiting his home on multiple occasions, including once where authorities tried to force the lead pastor to appear in court later on the same afternoon.

New Brunswick is in the middle of a so-called “circuit breaker” extreme lockdown in areas of “high transmission”. The government's last available data on the 132 new cases reported Oct 8 notes: “Of the new cases, 76 – or 58 per cent – are unvaccinated, 15 – or 12 per cent – are partially vaccinated, and 39– or 30 per cent – are fully vaccinated.”

Though the Alberta Government has been particularly harsh in the treatment of pastors during the pandemic, the Maritimes are not far behind. The Weston Christian Fellowship Church is facing over $100,000 in fines to both congregants and the church as an entity after fines were issued over two Sundays in May after a check-stop style police operation was set up outside the church. Weston Christian Fellowship are also Fight The Fines Clients.

Alberta pastors Tim Stephens, Art Pawlowski, Pawlowski's brother Dawid, and James Coates were all arrested for COVID non-compliance. Coates spent 35 days in jail, Stephens served over two weeks. The Pawlowski's spent 3 days and are facing 21 and more, respectively, for contempt of the court order that limited their church. Their sentence will be handed down by Justice Adam Germain on October 13 in Calgary. Rebel News, in partnership with the registered Canadian charity The Democracy Fund, has been helping the Pawlowskis since their first COVID fine for feeding the homeless. Visit www.SaveArtur.Com

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  • By David Menzies

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