Members of controversial church flee Canada

Note: This church is independent and not affiliated with the Church of God congregations.


November 6, 2001
By Rick Ross

Members of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario seemed to leave Canada in a mass exodus during the summer of 2001. Relatives of the members within the small town of 7,000, claimed that they believed this was the only way to keep their children from being picked up by child welfare. One relative said, "I don't care if they don't come back. I just wish they can keep their kids."

The Church of God, led by David Layne, had seven of its children removed by child welfare due to allegations of child abuse. The children were being severely disciplined through beatings with sticks and belts. The Church defended its harsh corporal punishment as a religious tenet, which they say is biblically based. Members also home-schooled their children.

Apparently, other church families, fearing their children might be the next to be picked up, left town. At least 26 mothers and 74 children left Aylmer this past summer bound for other group communities in the United States and Mexico. In July, at the time of this mass exodus, Elgin County's Family and Children's Services department refused to comment about the current status of their investigation.

The homes of church members emptied and members that were contacted would not comment. Instead, they referred inquiries to their leader Henry Hildebrandt, who then also refused to comment.



"Town divided over exodus of parishioners fears of losing children: 'Doesn't it sound like religious persecution?'" By Mary Vallis and Jon Bricker, National Post/July 17, 2001


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