A Local Pastor’s Open Letter to the Town of Aylmer (and those looking in)

I live in Aylmer, Ontario. I’m a resident, a father, a youth soccer coach, and a pastor here. I have been saddened this week to see my town in the national news with our squabbles on display. I would be happier if this was not what we are becoming notorious for. 

I am fully “awake” AND I wear my mask regularly. I am not afraid of my government. In fact, I’m thankful for and I pray for my government, as I am instructed to do in 1 Tim. 2:1-2. I don’t agree with all of the decisions my government makes, but I also don’t have to make decisions for 14 million people, and I don’t have all the information I need to make decisions of that magnitude. 

There’s a protest planned for Saturday. It is legal to protest and express your opinions, and that’s a good thing. We need greater diversity of opinion on how to navigate our way through this difficult time. I won’t be attending, but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with some of the points that will be made. 

It seems likely at this point that many from outside our town are coming to join this protest. Our mayor wants everyone to be safe and has taken appropriate action to ensure that’s the case. That’s also a good thing, but because she has done this, she has reportedly received threats to her safety. This is evil and cowardly. 

Defiance and Obedience

Over the last months as I have prayed, pondered, observed, and lived through this time of upheaval and uncertainty, a number of thoughts and commitments have become clear to me. 

  1. Defiance is sometimes necessary, but blind defiance is no better than blind obedience. Blind defiance and blind obedience are both unhealthy, knee-jerk reactions. Informed defiance and informed obedience can have a conversation; blind defiance and blind obedience can only have conflict. I will stay informed, enter many conversations, and  follow the laws of my province while at the same time making it known that I think there are better ways. This is how a healthy democracy works. 
  1. Of all the things Canadian Christians could be at this point, I think grateful ranks near the top. We have more freedoms than people in most other countries do, our governments, while imperfect, are responsive as they adapt to a situation that is still developing, and our worship spaces have fewer restrictions than almost all other similar spaces. (Thank you, Premier Ford)
  1. I do not believe that freedom means I don’t have to submit to anyone’s authority. God has placed people in places of authority (Romans 13:1-7) and it is my privilege and duty to submit to their authority (1 Peter 2:13-17) unless they compel me to do something that God considers sin (Acts 5:27-32). If I was convinced that this is what’s happening right now, I would be the one organizing and leading the protests. (I am, after all, a PROTESTant pastor.)
  1. I will not use my platform as a pastor to grandstand, collect followers, encourage rebellion, or make myself feel important. I will not confuse my calling as a pastor for an unexpressed but obvious aspiration to enter politics. I have no desire to be Aylmer’s most influential unelected politician. If I want to be a politician, I should run for office in the next election. 
  1. I will look first to the Bible to guide my thought and behaviour, not to the constitution of the great country in which I live. As I use the words of scripture, I will use them responsibly and according to their context. Parachuting out-of-context biblical passages into a speech doesn’t make the speech stronger. All it does is bring dishonour and disrepute to the scriptures. 
  1. I will not use the language of peace while hinting at insurrection. Inferring that those who abide by the mask mandate would have been Nazi supporters in earlier times is a dangerous and disgusting tactic. And after all, if your enemies are Nazis then violence is warranted, isn’t it? If anything, forcing a derogatory label on other community members – as if it were a visible badge – is the behaviour that needs to be called out. (I know that protest organizers can’t control every element of a public protest, but I do hope they will publicly rebuke this element of the protest if it is again on display, as it was at the last protest. See picture below.)
  1. I will continue to do what I can to love and remain in conversation with the people in my community, regardless of what they believe about masks or vaccines or any other hot topic.

P.S.

If you’ve been monitoring the situation for long, you might assume that the one Aylmer pastor you see constantly in the limelight represents the other pastors and churches in our community. As far as I am aware, he represents no other church except his own. In his many speeches and broadcasts, he frequently attempts to goad other pastors into joining his crusade. So far, no pastor that I know of has taken the bait. And that’s because the gospel is STILL not under assault in Aylmer, Ontario.

All the pastors I know in my community are working hard to care for people both inside and outside their churches. 

Like me, they are not afraid. Like me, if they were convinced that the government was trying to pressure us to sin against God, they would speak out.

82 Replies to “A Local Pastor’s Open Letter to the Town of Aylmer (and those looking in)”

  1. Thank you for sharing a kind, compassionate but sensible message in contrast to the so called “Freedom march” Not all Christians are like this. People understand the concepts incorrectly- Christ did not die so we can do what we please and have all our freedoms. He died to free everyone from sin, from ungodliness and also from self which seems to be a huge issue. Everyone wants their rights but we are to look upon others, to help and care, and protect them. We are to glorify God and love our fellow man. We are a medical family and we limit our outings, and we take care. I care deeply that my husband’s vulnerable patients are protected as well. THere are many issues with the pandemic but instead of griping and complaining we can go out there and help those around us. Call the elderly, bring a neighbour food, hellp those in financial need if you can or donate groceries to your food bank, help out at a shelter, etc. We need to be part of the solution and not the problem.

  2. Nothing you say is good or even relevant when practising anarchy. Canada has other populations is does not treat well. There is nothing “great” in your words. You and your church pose danger to others and you do it willingly. Do not ask me for forgiveness ask your God. I am an indigenous female is a dominate white male culture. What about my rights to life and liberty, oh wait you have imposed upon them by furthering your march. Your place in heaven is not guranteed. Begin to undo the damage you and the religion that you practice.

  3. How can you possibly argue the wearing of face masks The bible clearly says honor thy father and mother as part of the ten commandments. You are not honoring them by not wearing a mask You are contributing to their early death and are no better than those who nailed Jesus to the cross You are only interested in being in the media and should be ashamed of yourself. You have caused buisnes in this town town not to shop here Between you and IDA who allows people in their store you are a money grabber
    Obviously you will not be in at the cenotaph in Aylmer earing a mask in Aylmer to pay your respects for the people who made this country free You have had the freedom to run your church because of the people who lost their lives in this area to ensure freedom exists not exploitation
    Where were your ancestors in freedom where were you in maintaining that freedom I proudly swore my oath to defend the Canada I loved less you idiots that now mock this country because now you have a church that brain washes those in it We are going through difficult times now where we self isolate but we are not sitting in a ditch in Germany trying to free the world
    I joined the Canadian military when I was 17 I needed my father”s
    permission to hold the legacy my Aunts Uncles and Great uncles left for us to follow What have you tribbuted? All I can see is bitterness from your church to serve and protect The will of God is to keep idiots like you from running the world You are a waste of time in the bible you want fame You are not doing anything to help people I saw one of your people with a bannister that said I would rather be dead then be alone God said wherever 1 or more more of you gathered in my name I am with you If you are really teaching the word of god teach that
    In world war 1 and 2 allot of people lost their life to fight for real freedom They did not say God I am alone They prayed and said I am here for the freedom of my country Tell me what you have done to help the community out There are alot of older people who could use help what are you doing to help the

  4. If you feel pride in the town you live in and get to run a church in this town without taxes Join the parade on Remembrance day that honors the men who fought Hitler because they wanted to see this country be free to speak their mind However I feel you have done done nothing but dishonor the bible that says in the 10 commandments Honor thy father and thy mother I am 62 years old with major health problems Covid could easily kill me I believe inn helping the people in this community who need help What are you doing as a church to help protect the people who have fallen ill to the drugs that have been brought into our community that causes people to commit suicides to get this drug You would be much better and do more that would be respected by using your church money to help them to get to know God by bringing them out of their addiction Open a drug addiction area in Aylmer to help them I watch people walking by each day that have no place to live and all they want is the next hit
    You are not an entity onto yourself Get over your your own desire for being famous and get famous by the good you can do not the the unrest you want to bring
    I served in the military and swore allegance to Canada because I was proud to defend my country What have you done??????

    1. A well written response to a behaviour that threatens the health of your Community. This isn’t about abusing civil rights, it’s about trying to protect the citizens and not put a burden on our health system.
      We wear masks like we wear seatbelts. Victims of MVA’s sustain more severe injuries, which cost all of us in our taxes for their medical treatment. Wearing a mask reduces the virus transfer, and that saves all of us money, not to mention loss and heartache.

  5. Thank you Pastor Michael for sharing your ideas and values . It gives us hope that we will get through this together. People must realize a mask is not to protect you but to protect others and a curtesy to others. My wife and I were taking Physio in Aylmer for a bad accident we were in. Unfortunately for the past few weeks we have not been able to attend as our wife’s immune system is very low. I cannot take a chance that she may contact this and Aylmer at this time is a high risk area unfortunately. I agree folk should have the right to protest but NOT at the expense or safety of others.

  6. Wonderfully written! We need to keep encouraging each other and work towards a positive outcome to this pandemic.
    ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
    Philippians 4:6 NIV

    1. I think it is aggregious to equate wearing a mask that is a public health mandate, designed to protect life with following the edict of Nazi Germany…what are you thinking???
      Nobody is asking you to slaughter innocent jews!!! Where the freaking mask!!!!. Or are you people so shallow that you feel some sort of empowerment by standing up to The Man???
      Guess what? The ones who will die if you get infected and spread the virus are not the politicians….they are your friends and family and neighbours…
      Suppose I gave you a gun and it may be loaded or not…but you had to go around town and randomly aim that gun at people and family and every once in a while…someone dies…would that be okay?…I’m guessing you protesters wouldn’t have the balls to pull the trigger….so get on with your life…put down your idiotic signs and wear a mask.

      1. …seeing the comments here make me question people’s reading comprehension ability

        Like they’re fighting the article on… things the article is denouncing!

  7. Jesus said, Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged Blind. Jesus immediately goes on to say: Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure, you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
    Jesus did not let anyone speak for him, he did it himself and he did not hide behind an anonymous letter. He spoke out loudly and proudly.

  8. Here’s the bottom line. You are not “special”. Like it or not this virus can affect everyone regardless of religion, politics or personal choice and beliefs. The people who know tell us to distance and mask ourselves in order to help curb the spread. You don’t know more about it than they do. Do your self, your family, my family and me a favour, follow the same rules as the rest of us. Is that such a sacrifice?

  9. I’m not saying I’m for the protests, and that I encourage violent behavior associated with protests. But evil prevails when good men do nothing. You’ve already allowed the government to shut down church services, and basically made it impossible for people to gather and have fellowship. You may have limited services now, but it’s only because the government has said you could. Where does it stop? Please don’t lump people who don’t wear masks with everyone else who cause upheaval. We have to remember that “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
    Ephesians 6:12 KJV

    1. Karen has a good point ! The CDC numbers don’t match up to the lockdown narrative at all ? Canada or the USA 7% mortality rate is a Pandemic and that hasn’t happened since June of this year ! The cases of Covid is all you hear in the media and the mortality rate is what we should look at and also having other physical symptoms and ongoing problems Covid might be what causes someone to die but let’s be real please

  10. When asked, Jesus said that the most important commandment found in the Law was simply to love God and your neighbour as yourself. If we all could put this into practice, the cause of Christ would advance uninhibited. This world wide pandemic has given the post WW 2 generation its first opportunity to sacrifice for the well-being of others on a global scale. We believers have never, as the Body of Christ, had such an opportunity in our lifetimes. I have been shocked that there are so many that are part of the church that are screaming for their supposed rights. “We need services, we need to gather, we need to visit, we need, we, we, we…it’s not about us. Believers should be the most willing to sacrifice for others. It baffles me that there are those that call themselves followers of Christ who won’t wear a mask, won’t cease gathering in groups, won’t sacrifice anything of their good life while claiming this as allegiance to Jesus. I say, no, this is about yourselves. Jesus sacrificed everything for wicked mankind. It saddens me, very much so, that Christians won’t do the same on a much smaller scale during this unprecedented time in history. Damages the cause of our Saviour – for all the world to see.

    1. Joanie-Very well written reply.I whole heartily agree.
      Just a little side line–Every one is free to not wear a mask-JUST STAY HOME.
      The masks gives you the freedom to leave your house and gives you entrance to the store,the bank,schools,church etc. etc.
      I just don’t see what the big deal is.
      Compare that to the Jews having to wear the tag that identified them as Jews to subject them to persecution under Hitler and any one found aiding them was shot.

  11. This whole situation is pretty sad to me as a local. Sad on all accounts. But truth be told, my immediate family, grandparents and my dad and his brother escaped communism, risking their lives in the dead of night to flee to freedom with only their clothes on their backs and what they could carry in one small suitcase. My grandmother lived in Germany and worked for a Nazi officer during the war. My immediate family and many family friends have first hand experience with suffering under Nazism and communism. Every single one of them are shaking their heads at the state of the world and saying that it is coming here and soon. I know how hard it is to believe that, I wish it wasn’t true myself. But all these people who lived through it are certain it is coming here. We are blessed to have much freedom here still. Other countries are much further progressed in the removal of freedom (Australia, New Zealand). Watch and beware. And for the love of God, Christians speak love and peace to each other and to all those around. What saddens me the most, is the vitriol that Christians pour on people who disagree with them, attacking the protesters and wanting them to be jailed, fined or denied medical care. Would Jesus really respond that way or want us to respond that way? I myself have no interest in engaging in political demonstrations, for or against any cause, however I believe that everyone else should have that right to do so upheld and supported as is our charter right in this country. It’s what has kept our democracy this long. And in times were it is most risky to do so, is the times when it is most needed. May God keep our land, glorious and free.

    1. I have never once thought that Pastor H represents anyone but himself and those that follow him. His actions are an embarrassment. I do not understand the thinking of Christians that consider measures to bring the pandemic to an end, an affront to their rights.

  12. Thank you for sharing that spot on. Like many others I have lost sleep over this a I worry about the safety of my cousins. Thank you for your comforting wisdom. May God bestow many blessings on you and your family. Peace be with you

  13. Beautifully written and very poignant. My parents who live in Aylmer said to me the other day that it deeply saddened them to see the behaviour of these people who say they are Christians but implied people who choice to follow the government’s guidelines Nazis and would threaten the Mayor.

  14. Thanks Michael. I’m curious, as we come closer to Remembrance day, what those who have faced actual Nazis would think of how lightly that epithet is thrown around today.

    1. My late father sacrificed over 5 years of his life facing the Nazis, fighting for the freedoms we all enjoy. Towards the end of his service he was among the troupe who forded the Elbe River from Germany to the Netherlands, in January, holding his weapon above his head, surrounded by ice floes, while under attack. He survived and was among the troops who liberated the Dutch from their oppressors. On this week of Remembrance my. dad would be turning in his grave to hear this group of selfish attention seekers comparing the wearing is a cloth mask inside public buildings to Nazi oppression. My late husband was a pastor in Aylmer for 25 years. Like me, he would not be able to reconcile the behaviour of these people with Christian behaviour. Jesus sacrificed his very life for others. These people are not Christians. I am very sad for the decent, law abiding citizens of Aylmer.

      1. Hello Kathleen,
        As someone who grew up in the area, and was confirmed by your husband, I fully agree with this sentiment. No true Christian pastor would condone violence or threats to bring their point across. Pastor Schaper always promoted inclusion and understanding for the betterment of the community, not the degradation. We have the right to PEACEFUL protest, we do NOT have the right to force our views or opinions on others, especially through threats. Those that do this are closer to being Nazis then anyone they are accusing.

  15. This is the most wonderful thing I have read on the internet pertaining to the certain facts happening in our local area. Thank you

  16. Interesting, as a follower of “Kabbalah” what would your incite be on covid under the laws of creation its purpose under these laws and how we as humans have chosen to deal with it. Thank you and god bless!

  17. I agree that what was once considered wrong is right. We don’t care for the stranger. We often believe the poor are getting what they deserve and we don’t want to see “our hard earned money” go to people who need to ” pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” We vilify the same people Jesus befriended. We aren’t willing to give up our freedoms to save others. I’m ashamed to name myself Christian while others spew hatred in the name of Christ.

  18. Shame on them all. Especially the Almyer churches and church people who are disobedient to the government regulations. May God have mercy on those that lead weak followers astray.

  19. The reason no other area clergy have joined to fight against (perceived?) tyrannical governmental measures might be fear. Fear of losing their job. Fear of their church losing registered charitable status. Remember how Christian churches were denied grant funding because they were pro life? The science is not yet decided on mask wearing. Choice is everything. Hard won. People died for us to have a choice. Control. Tyranny. What was once considered wrong, is now right. What was once considered right is now wrong.
    Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees.
    God bless you, Pastor Michael.

    1. I agree that what was once considered wrong is right. We don’t care for the stranger. We often believe the poor are getting what they deserve sen we don’t want to see “our hard earned money” go to people who need to ” pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” We vilify the same people Jesus befriended. We aren’t willing to give up our freedoms to save others. I’m ashamed to name myself Christian while others spew hatred in the name of Christ.

  20. This is anemic. The restraints on government are broader than just not forcing you to sin. The greater authority is the constitutional restrain on governing bodies that are being violated. The principles of government restraint, no matter how pretty you perceive them cannot be violated. Emergency measures being activated over a non event are a gross overstep and biblically principled leaders need to be leading the way. Considering the standard of “church restrictions aren’t as bad as they could be” is a betrayal of the biblical standards you progress to uphold. Authority stepping beyond their biblical and constitutional authority is the very basic principle of Nazi German or any other tyranny. Medical tyranny, no matter how much you rationalize it, and inventing the perception of pending violence to legitimize emergency invocation is simply a hysterical response. Citing threats of violence without proof is just a public spectacle for media optics.

    1. Your comment about this medical “non event” says more than anything else you can say. If the government and their medical staff say there are good reasons for you to wear a mask and practice social distancing then that is what all citizens concerned with their community’s safety should abide by. If you personally don’t agree, that’s on you. But don’t tell the rest of us how to act or think. That is our right.

      1. Perhaps your ignorance of history, or moral principles, or the lack of political credibility and accountability betrays an informed response. All the best.

        1. On the contrary about assuming people are unread or educated about their responses is telling maybe about there stance?
          Depending on what health professionals your referring to about mask safety is still up in the air ? People touch there faces more and don’t change masks at proper intervals therefore could be causing more damage than good Science and facts have sometimes been replaced by so called Health professionals options

    2. Perhaps you would like to discuss this “non event” with the families and friends of the 3,200 people it’s killed in Ontario so far.

      1. Great non sequitur fallacious arguments but I’ll play along; bring them over. Perhaps you can address the 150,000 missed medical procedures or the 6,000,000 cancelled diagnostics for cancers, heart disease etc? When you’re done talk to the families who have been left due to the 600% increase in suicides. Maybe if your moral compass provides any conscience you can talk to those who still struggle with it. 25% of teens have contemplated suicide through this. What have you done besides make foolish arguments? Ignore the increased domestic and substance abuse cases too. 250,000 closed small businesses and the massive unemployment. All that really pales in comparison to the 5 deaths (people who are medically “expected to die” – all with DNR’s) in the region. Do you know how many died in previous years due to seasonal flu? Probably not because you’ve been tracking the ubiquitous daily fear porn and collecting a paycheck right? Ya, thanks for your empty virtue signaling.

        1. Dear Michael Krahn
          Did you know that the chance of you dying from the flue is greater than covid ? Check the CDC numbers yourself? People have died and i must be so insensitive and uneducated about Covid -19 virus !
          You my friend assume a lot of things but that’s okay i still love you ?
          The more the experts talk and give there best opinions and scientific opinions as they look at the data they are making there best judgment at the time of reading? If you remember at the beginning of Covid over 2 million people would die ? 237,000 USA 10,490 Canada appropriately Tragic obviously Are you going to shut down the economy because of the common cold and flue that kills a tragic amount of people each year ?

  21. Thank you Pastor Michael. So glad that you where willing to be used by God to speak truth into our community.
    Thank you LORD for this message of life and the truth found in it.

  22. I have so many friends who used to post things that related to the Gospel, things that ultimately communicated “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners”. Now the theme of their life is “I need to protect my freedoms”. I was hoping what was said at the beginning of this all is not true; “This pandemic will bring out the best AND the worst in people, for many, it will show us what our true love is”.

  23. There is a time for defiance and to show displeasure with how the government does things but when that defiance puts people’s health and welfare at risk. Then that is not the time. People are dying from this disease. Not one person has the right to make another sick. The proof is in the science. It’s not disputable and the government not only has the right but has the obligation to protect its citizens and in so doing has the right and obligation to restrict, temporarily, our freedoms

    1. Perhaps those that do not wish to have a mask sure have card in their that says they refuse treatment for any Covid type illness.

  24. Great message, Michael. In Manitoba, our government as well is making religious gathering possible. There are restrictions but they are working WITH the organizations, which I am very grateful for. We continue to pray for our leaders. They’ve got a tough job.

    Glad I came across this today.

  25. Well done . I cringe when I hear or read about ”Christians” making news headlines on their ”soap box”. We might not agree with every thing our government does but we must remember that they are put there by GOD and usually have our best interest and health at heart.

    1. Well said and I am pleased to hear the sanity and care for others in your words. I am alarmed that people from Toronto are planning to come tomorrow and I hope things don’t get out if hand!

    1. Please know the actions if one church is not a reflection of the town and all churches of Aylmer as a whole. The rest of Aylmer has more support than they know. ❤ Beautiful, kind and honest words.

  26. Thanks Michael. In times like these, we need to be reminded that Christ called us to love each other and carry one another’s burdens, not seek to satisfy our self-interests. Keep on!

  27. That is very well said. My husband and I have been saddened by the false portrayal of Christianity by this protest leader. We are so thankful to our Government for the protection they provide and strive for. I don’t understand what freedoms they claim has been taken away from us? I want to thank you for your statement.

    1. I was talking to my wife this morning and suddenly realized: I can’t think of a single business in Aylmer that is shut down because of COVID. Maybe there are some, but no one I asked could name one.

      So, we seem to be doing quite well, so I don’t understand why there is so much complaining.

  28. This is the most reasonable statement I have seen in days! Thank you for the loving, comforting bits of wisdom! I am going to share this with everyone today! May the peace of God be with us, today and everyday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *