. ST. THOMAS, ONT. - Several families belonging to the same congregation fled the country, fearing their children would be next.
The family's identity is protected by a publication ban.
A few dozen parishioners sang hymns outside the courthouse as Thursday's hearing was held. They carried signs supporting the parents' right to use spanking as a form of discipline.
The Criminal Code of Canada permits parents to spank their children, as long as they use "reasonable force."
Thursday night, the congregation in Aylmer, about 25 kilometres east of St. Thomas, celebrated the reunion of the parents and their children.
"I don't know how to express it, I am overwhelmed," hollered Rev. Henry Hildebrandt outside the courthouse. "This is an answer to prayer."
"(Spanking) has to be part of bringing up children," Hildebrandt said later, when told about the prohibition against corporal punishment in the temporary custody order.
"It has to be done in a loving, in a kind way," he said. "But it has to be done, nevertheless."
Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Services is reviewing the case. The judge has ordered Child and Family Services workers to become more familiar with the family's religious beliefs before returning to court in September.