Church Tag

19 Jun 2020 Churches as unifiers should not be penalized for their effective contact tracing

By pastor Gerrit Bruintjes and André Schutten For the past month, many religious leaders have been calling on the Ontario government to ease its total ban on corporate worship services. On June 12th, the Ford government issued an executive order permitting religious ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, at 30% building capacity. In our current context amidst social unrest and uncertainty, this is a good decision not only because the Charter of Rights demands this response, but also because churches unify diverse people and can trace contacts well. In the last few weeks,...

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03 Jun 2020 As COVID restrictions drag on, the civil government needs guidance from the instituted church

I’m always moved when I read the introduction to the Belgic Confession in the Book of Praise. It explains that a copy of the Belgic Confession was sent to the persecuting King Philip II, with a letter from a group of petitioners who “declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would ‘offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to fire,’ rather than deny the truth expressed in the Confession.” This was...

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02 Jun 2020 Still glorious and free? The duty of each Christian to stand on guard for freedom in an age of unprecedented lock-down

The chorus in our national anthem is a prayer: God keep our land glorious and free. O Canada we stand on guard for thee. So, what does that mean practically? Christians take prayer very seriously. It is the most important part of our thankfulness to God (Lord’s Day 45, Heidelberg Catechism). James teaches us that it’s no good to pray for the hungry and poor if we ourselves don’t also help the hungry and the poor (James 2:14-26). How does God answer our prayer to feed the hungry? Sometimes...

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29 May 2020 Over 400 Ontario Churches Call on Premier to Allow a Gradual Reopening

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario - a small, rural congregation that held church services in their parking lot in response to social distancing laws. I did not expect the level of response that post received. Clearly, this situation highlighted concerns about religious freedom for many in this province, and around the country! This situation highlighted concerns about religious freedom The Ontario Government, using their emergency powers during the COVID-19 crisis, prohibits gatherings of more than five people. The congregation in Aylmer sought to...

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29 Apr 2020 Holding Church in your Car? Not in Ontario!

This past Sunday, April 26th a small congregation met in the lazy little town of Aylmer, Ontario for worship. That sentence wouldn’t normally invite much commentary – in fact you might think it was the beginning of a novel. It might surprise you to know, however, that this was big news. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of worship in our country for the last 7 or so weeks – and rightly so. Glancing over the headlines of major newspapers, you might think this congregation packed the building, shook hands, hugged, sang...

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08 Apr 2020 Is Corporate Worship “Essential”? Some Biblical Considerations for the Church’s Response.

Essential services are a hot topic right now, as everyone wonders whether their place of employment or job description qualifies as “essential” under COVID-19 restrictions. Essential services include the obvious: nurses and doctors, fire fighters, grocery stores, child protective services, police officers. But they extend far beyond that, even including liquor and recreational cannabis stores. The result is that some businesses with hundreds of employees continue to operate with minimal oversight, while others have closed despite there being measures they could easily take to mitigate risk. Churches are not on the...

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31 Mar 2020 Letter to Government Officials – hope and humility

The following letter was sent by ARPA Canada to Canada's federal and provincial government officials, encouraging them to find their hope and direction in our sovereign God. We ask you to join us in praying for a blessing on this letter, and invite you to reach out to them to encourage them and, if the opportunity allows, to lovingly point to their responsibility to govern faithfully, in obedience to the One who gave them their authority. A meeting, including through electronic means, would be an ideal way to communicate this...

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01 Jun 2018 Supreme Court rules unanimously in church discipline case

Can the decision of a church or religious body to expel a member be appealed to a civil court? Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously that the answer to that question is no. The lower court judge, Justice Wilson, and a majority at the Alberta Court of Appeal, had answered this question in the affirmative. The SCC overturned the decisions of the lower courts for three reasons. First, the Court ruled that judges can only review decisions made by state actors – those that have been granted powers by the...

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28 May 2018 Handing over the keys to the State? The challenges of church as legal entity Part 3 of 3

  An ARPA Three-Part series on Church and State in Canada By André Schutten and John Sikkema The church, says the Belgic Confession, is “a holy congregation and assembly of true Christian believers” that “has existed from the beginning of the world and will be to the end” and “is not confined or limited to one particular place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world.” Yet in common parlance we use “church” to mean several other things. We may use it to refer to a certain denomination, or a...

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26 Mar 2018 Scripture, not state law, instructs us how to do church discipline Part 2 of 3

An ARPA Three-Part series on Church and State in Canada By John Sikkema and André Schutten Two weeks ago, in the first of our three-part series, we discussed foundations. We explained that God divides human authority between at least three institutions: the family, the church, and the state. Their authority or power comes from God and is limited by Scripture. The church must defer to the state in matters of state jurisdiction but cannot defer to the state in matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, particularly the preaching of the gospel and the exercise...

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