Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested, sent to jail and released after Alberta Health Services failed to provide him adequate notice that an order banning gatherings applied to him and his congregation. He was then re-arrested mere days later (for an outdoor gathering of all things) only to be jailed again for two weeks. His place of worship, Fairview Baptist Church, was also seized by Alberta Health Services. All for the grave sin of continuing to gather for worship despite COVID restrictions over the past 16 months.
Pastor Tim could have been released from jail earlier, had he been willing to compromise his capacity as shepherd to his church. But he was not, and so he refused to sign the bail conditions presented to him on principle. With COVID restrictions in Alberta being removed, the Justice Rooke order under which Pastor Tim was being held was rescinded and he was released. He is free for the time being, but make no mistake — Alberta Health Services is continuing their zealous legal pursuit of pastors who dared to question their directives, and serious legal battles lay ahead for Pastor Tim.
His church building was also returned, but the congregation now has a new problem to deal with. Pastor Tim’s uncompromising witness to the primacy of Christ is drawing in many new worshippers. His growing flock will no longer fit inside their returned church building. They have been gathering instead, in increasing numbers, at Shepard Community Hall to accommodate all the newcomers.
We spoke with Pastor Tim Stephens about his growing community of faith and the legal battles ahead. We also spoke with Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church, who was in attendance. As you may recall, Pastor James was also arrested and had his worship space seized by Alberta Health Services, so the two pastors share a unique bond born of their shared fight for religious freedom.
The buildings for GraceLife Church and Fairview Baptist Church were both returned to their rightful owners as restrictions have relaxed, but dozens of Christian communities across the country will not be so lucky. Arson has claimed the worship spaces of many people of faith. In total, 53 churches have experienced either arson or vandalism across Canada, and yet politicians have been largely silent on the matter.
Go to SaveOurChurches.ca and sign our petition demanding that politicians condemn these acts of hatred and terrorism and ensure safety for Christians and their places of worship.