All six elders of Trinity Bible Chapel in Ontario, Canada were criminally charged on Wednesday for holding in-person services on December 27.
All six elders must now appear in criminal court, where they could face a fine of up to $10,000.
Officers from the Waterloo Region Police (WRPS) arrived at the homes of the elders on Wednesday to gave each of them a summons to court.
"We are peaceful family men seeking to pastorally care for our families and our church in sincere obedience to God. We are not criminals," the elders of Trinity Bible Chapel said in a statement.
"[I]t appears the WRPS is trying to make an example of us."
"For years we have taught our children to respect police, and now our children and grandchildren are witness to their fathers and grandfathers receiving charges from police for worshipping Christ with our church."
"It is a dark day for Waterloo Region and Ontario."
According to the elders, Trinity Bible Chapel has "not had a single outbreak traced back to [their] church," since they re-opened in June.
The elders said "[n]ot one of [their governing] officials replied with an attempt to work with [them]," after the elders published an open letter on December 3 titled "Here We Stand: The Church Must Meet."
"This is evil," the elders said. "Nowhere does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee freedom from risk or virus, but it does protect the freedom of conscience, religion, belief, and assembly."
"While we seek to honour and pray for our governing officials, we are also grieved over the apparent hypocrisy and arbitrary applications of law."
"Several politicians have been caught violating their own laws by visiting cottages, hosting gatherings, or jaunting to warmer climates."
"While Ontarians were restricted to outdoor gatherings of 5 or less persons, the Chief of Police offered the 'full support' to a protest in which the 'crowd may have been between 12,000 and 20,000 strong.'"