“We broke no law”: Pastor threatened by police for hosting drive-in Sunday service

Will there be hell to pay due to alleged breaches of #coronavirus etiquette after the Church of God held religious services last Sunday?

That is the question law enforcement in Aylmer, Ontario, is mulling over.

Church broadcasted over the radio to parked cars

But what harm was done exactly? The Church of God did indeed conduct a religious service, but none of the parishioners were actually inside the locked-down church.

Rather, they were in their cars with the windows rolled up.

The sermon was broadcast via a radio frequency. Even the passing of the collection plate was cancelled in order to avoid any unnecessary contact.

Aylmer Police Service videotaped Sunday service

But the Aylmer Police — who observed and videotaped the sermon — say charges are likely forthcoming because the Church of God defied provincial physical distancing orders under Ontario's Emergency Act.

But how so? Wasn’t everyone practicing physical distancing by remaining in their vehicles? Where was the risk? Where was the danger?

On Monday I traveled to Aylmer to speak with the pastor at the Church of God, Henry Hildebrandt and also an inspector at the Aylmer Police Service, Nick Novacich.

For his part, Pastor Hildebrandt says what happened on Sunday was no different than cars gathering at a grocery store parking lot.

And since everyone stayed in their vehicles, there was no chance that the virus would spread. (Assuming anyone was infected in the first place.)

But Inspector Novacich feels that the gathering was indeed a breach of the law.

My take? Fining the pastor or any of the parishioners would simply constitute a solution to a problem that never existed.