Canadian authorities surrounded an evangelical church in Alberta with chain link fencing and blocked the entrance to the parking lot with police vehicles and unmarked SUVs, according to local reports.
GraceLife Church of Edmonton has been “physically closed” by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for violating coronavirus public health orders. The pastor, James Coates, was jailed for 35 days and fined $1,500 in February and charged with violating health orders, CBC reported.
The church released a lengthy statement defending their in-person services as exercising their civil liberties with appropriate caution, which you can read on the church’s website. Coates resumed preaching on March 28.
“Now they’ve chained the doors of GraceLife Church enclosing in chain link fence,” Erin Coates, the pastor’s wife, wrote on Instagram with images of the fencing.
“This is all under guise of a health order … I pray for all the pastors and Christians that still think this is about a virus and health order. Clearly our Charter and criminal code mean nothing as long as the government can come up with a good enough story to disregard it,” she added. “God have mercy on our nation.”
AHS said it will prevent worshippers from accessing the church until they “can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s restrictions.”
CBC reports that the church has violated orders since December, where churches are supposed to be limited to 15% capacity and if any do attend to socially distance and wear masks.
GraceLife Church “has decided not to follow these mandatory restrictions, nor have they attempted to work with AHS to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” AHS said a statement.
“With COVID-19 cases increasing and the more easily-transmitted and potentially more severe variants becoming dominant, there is urgent need to minimize spread to protect all Albertans.”
This comes as another Canadian pastor in Adullam, Artur Pawlowski of The Cave, went viral for shouting at six officers who tried to disrupt his Passover service.
“Nazis are not welcome here,” declared Pawlowski. “Please get out immediately.”