The trial for Tim Stephens on the remaining six charges of violating public health orders has been delayed until the fall as the court awaits a decision on another case.
Stephens broke the news to the mailing list of his church, Calgary's Fairview Baptist:
This week I was scheduled to be in court to face six violations of the Public Health Act (from January through March, 2021) and one criminal charge for breaking a court order by Justice Rooke for an outdoor worship service on June 6, 2021.
This morning there were negotiations for a plea deal that could have resolved the issue without going to trial. However, I declined it. It is not my intention to plead guilty as a matter of principle, trusting that the decisions we made as a church were righteous and in full accordance with Scripture, our religious convictions, and should be protected by our constitution.
Our intention was to contest the charges, especially the criminal charge for breaking a court order. The order served to me on May 29, 2021 was originally intended for Chris Scott and the Whistle Stop restaurant in Mirror, AB. We planned to argue that this order did not apply to me (especially after it was amended on May 13, 2021) and that our gatherings were in no way connected with Chris Scott or the Whistle Stop restaurant, nor were our gatherings any kind of protest against restrictions. In conveying our intention to the prosecution, they decided to drop the criminal charge and adjourn the other matters until a later date!
We are still waiting for the result from the Ingram case which is testing the constitutionality of the health orders in Alberta. A result from that trial is expected at the end of July. This means that my remaining health act violations have been adjourned (likely until the fall). I am still hopeful that I will have an opportunity to share why restrictions such as masking, capacity limits, and physical distancing are a violation of the authority of the church, the conscience, and the constitution of our country.
Thank you for all your prayers. God is good. Jesus is worthy. His church will prevail and the gates of hell cannot stand against it.
Stephens was arrested twice in front of his weeping children last year. He was jailed for several weeks last summer after being arrested at his home by Calgary police after refusing to impose government restrictions on places of worship on his congregation.
Police and health officials repeatedly barged into the church as services were underway to perform inspections in the lead-up to Stephen's arrest and incarceration.
The Fairview Baptist congregation spent several Sundays last year holding services in a secret location to avoid a crackdown from health authorities and police.