Sunday morning, GraceLife Church near Edmonton, Alberta, held its first service since their pastor, James Coates, was arrested February 16 for not following public health orders to limit the size of his congregation to 15 per cent of fire code capacity.
GraceLife’s associate pastor, Jacob Spenst, gave a fiery sermon on the responsibility of Christians and pastors to disobey laws that contravene their faith, to a crowd that reached 100 per cent of fire code capacity. Overflow attendees listened to the service outside over loudspeakers, and on livestream from their cars in the parking lot.
GraceLife has received a closure order from Alberta Health Services, and Coates, prior to his first arrest and subsequent confinement, was issued a fine for $1,200 for breaching the public health order restricting places of worship.
Coates, who is being represented by James Kitchen of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, remains in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre, unable to agree to follow bail conditions that would prevent him from preaching the gospel and keeping his church open. His trial has been set for May 3.
A Rebel team was on hand at GraceLife from pre-dawn hours, on a hunch that the local RCMP might change the locks on the church to enforce the closure order, the way Toronto police did at Adamson Barbecue. The early morning stakeout proved fruitless and the service went off without a hitch, though police and bylaw enforcement were patrolling the roads in front of the church for most of the day, without issuing a single ticket or summons.
To sign our petition calling for the release of Pastor James Coates, please visit www.FreePastorJames.com. Rebel News will be back in the pews at GraceLife on Sunday as the church continues to fight for religious freedom in Alberta.