Easter weekend didn't provide any reprieve from RCMP and Alberta Health Services surveillance at GraceLife Church.
The church, west of Edmonton's city limits, was monitored from just off church property by the authorities on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Both services had hundreds of worshippers in attendance.
GraceLife Pastor James Coates recently spent 35 days in provincial custody after turning himself in on February 16 for violating public health restrictions on places of worship that required him to limit his congregation's attendance to just 15 per cent of fire code capacity. The same public health orders require congregants to wear masks and physically distance from each other, but Coates and the GraceLife congregation argue these restrictions limit their ability to practice their faith.
Two anonymous anti-GraceLife activists, described by members of the mainstream media as “peaceful protesters”, also stood beside the media in their perch in the ditch across the road from church property, holding signs saying, “spread kindness not COVID” and “WWJD? Hang out in a cohort of 12.”
Had Christ followed that advice, at least in Alberta where gatherings are restricted to just 10 people, the Last Supper would have resulted in Jesus and his apostles being issued tickets for $1,200 apiece.
Pastor Mike Hovland from GraceLife's sister church, Grace Bible Fellowship in La Crete, Alberta, gave the Easter Sunday sermon. Hovland's church has taken the same stand against the public health restrictions as GraceLife.
No tickets or fines were issued to GraceLife on Sunday.