Update #1: James Coates’ lawyer, James Kitchen, responding to Calgary Police Service Statement, says that Pastor Stephens was never served with a copy of the court order and that Alberta Health Services is straight-up lying.
A third Alberta Pastor has been arrested and thrown in jail on account of breaking pandemic gathering rules, which limit church services to 15 people inside, or 5 people outside. [Where is “the science” on that? -Ed.]
Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Caglary, Alberta, follows Pastor James Coates and Pastor Artur Pawlowski in being arrested for violating a a Court of Queen’s Bench Order that requires organizers of events to comply with public health restrictions.
Tim Stephens, a reserved man with 8 children, was arrested following the church service Sunday. He hugged his family and friends before being led away and put into a police car, surrounded by a half-dozen officers and multiple police vehicles. There is no word yet on how long he is being incarcerated for or if he’s being allowed to post bail.
For weeks Stephens has indicated that he will not comply with these health orders, writing on the church website:
Restricting the church to 15 people — which essentially restricts the church from gathering — is against the will of Christ and against the conscience of many who desire to worship the Lord of glory according to his word. Our actions are borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture…The consequences may be severe. But we stand before Christ rather than bend before consequences.
In a public statement, Calagry Police say that they have “received repeated calls from concerned citizens regarding church services held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks,” and that after being served an injunction and told to stop, “the Pastor acknowledged the injunction, but chose to move forward with today’s service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.”
When asked last week by Rebel News what happens next, Stephens was reflective but unbowed.
It’s not the civil magistrate’s job, the government’s job to regulate or restrict our worship and so we’re really coming together as peaceful citizens to worship Christ because he is worthy. In terms of what that means, now I don’t really know. The government has obviously turned up the heat on churches trying to discourage them from gathering together. I think they don’t understand that Christians are committed to follow the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of the consequence.
Pray for this man, his family, and the church.
Bonus content: These are the first minutes of last week’s sermon, where Pastor Tim explains why their gather for worship even when it is outlawed by the governing authorities. A primer for un-arrested pastors everywhere.
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