With the disappointing news that Pastor James Coates lost his condition hearing and is set to spend the next 2 months in a maximum-security prison until his May 3-5 trial, several new developments have taken place as the sad saga continues.
James has been in custody since February 16. He is now out of quarantine/solitary confinement and has been given the opportunity to have a video call with his wife and child, and is able to spend three hours out of his cell each day, with his wife sharing:
James does have the opportunity to appeal his bail hearing conditions before May 5th, but there is no word yet on when that will take place.
Response from law enforcement
Gracelife Church continued having services, violating the closure order for the sixth time, all the while two police cars and several members of law enforcement looked on but did not come into the services. This is a change from the last few weeks, where over a dozen cruisers surrounded the church and hovered nearby, along with staying for the duration of the service. Police have not handed out any more tickets, and it seems for now they have yet to finalize the best way to deal with the Church’s open rebellion and defiance.
Despite the Crown Prosecutor insisting that James Coates must be locked up because he would be a danger to the public if released, as he would just go back to preaching at capacity crowds, they have not arrested Associate Pastor Jacob Spenst, who is preaching in his stead and doing the exact same thing. For the record, the public health prosecutor’s name is Karen L. Thorsrud. She is the one who asked for anonymity for herself during the hearing, which was granted by the courts. [Editor’s note: Her name is Karen? No way…you can’t make this stuff up!]
Cst. Shelley Nasheim, domestic violence unit and media liaison for the Parkland RCMP, explained that “Alberta Health Services, with the assistance of the RCMP, are still monitoring the Grace Life Church. RCMP members did attend yesterday to monitor the situation.” A statement from the RCMP noted that they “remain engaged in continued consultations with several partner agencies to determine the most productive course of action in relation to the church.”
The Church Services
Unlike previous weeks, the Church did not reach their capacity and did not have to turn anyone away, though they were pretty close.
Having a suspicion that members of law enforcement were going to show up early in the morning and change the locks on the church in order to physically bar any congregants from entering and thereby gathering, a reporter for Rebel Media, Sheila Gunn Reid, showed up at the Church Sunday morning at 5:00 am to document it. Thankfully, that did not materialize.
Whereas in previous weeks the Church has allowed members of Rebel Media to film inside of the church for portions of the service, correspondent Sheila Gunn Reid explained that they would no longer be doing so, as this is not a spectacle, but simply the church having normal worship services in abnormal times, and ought to be treated as such. Other members of the media arrived on the scene to film the church from across the side of the road.
During the service, Pastor James Coates was able to call in and listen for a brief time but did not speak. Furthermore, the congregation played a personalized video message from Pastor John MacArthur, of whom both pastors at Gracelife are Masters Seminary alumni.
In the message, Pastor John explains that he’s had an opportunity to listen to a number of sermons from Coates and that he’s proud of him, describing him as an “outstanding preacher” who is “handling the word of God faithfully” and is a model of “conviction and courage.” He says they’ve been likewise blessed by the writings of his wife, Erin, and that he and Grace Community Church continues to have the congregation in their prayers.