The Royal Canadian Mounted Police again charged GraceLife Church in Alberta on Wednesday for refusing to close their doors to congregants and members of the public.
According to the Edmonton Journal, on March 4, the legal counsel for the church was served with a summons to attend Stony Plain provincial court on May 5.
The church was charged for exceeding 15 percent allowable capacity for services held on February 21 and 28, in defiance of the Public Health Act, the Journal noted.
The church was charged again on Wednesday for continuing to remain open to those in need, despite receiving an order by Alberta Health Service to immediately close on January 29.
The charges come after GraceLife Church’s pastor, James Coates, was imprisoned for “exceeding the 15 percent allowable capacity for the services held on February 21 and February 28.”
Speaking with FaithWire, Pastor Coates’ wife, Erin, said when her husband was first incarcerated in mid-February he was quarantined for two weeks and only had two 15-minute blocks outside his jail cell.
Although he initially shared a cell, he was eventually moved due to the “high profile” nature of the case, and “spent the majority of the two weeks alone.”
Pastor Coates was moved last Thursday to the general population, however, his wife and children still cannot visit him because of C0VID restrictions.
Pastor Coates was denied bail earlier this month and will remain behind bars until his May 3-5 trial.
The imprisonment of Pastor Coates, and the additional charges brought against the church as an entity, have not deterred the congregation from continuing to gather in worship.
The Edmonton Journal reported on Sunday that the church held another packed service over the weekend. Although authorities were present, they did not intervene or enter the church property.
GraceLife Church has since issued a statement on their website arguing that the “health” measures are being used to repeal basic freedoms.
“The science being used to justify lockdown measures is both suspect and selective,” the statement said. “In fact, there is no empirical evidence that lockdowns are effective in mitigating the spread of the virus. We are gravely concerned that C0VID-19 is being used to fundamentally alter society and strip us all of our civil liberties. By the time the so-called ‘pandemic’ is over, if it is ever permitted to be over, Albertans will be utterly reliant on government, instead of free, prosperous, and independent.”
The church went on to say, “we believe love for our neighbor demands that we exercise our civil liberties. We do not see our actions as perpetuating the longevity of C0VID-19 or any other virus that will inevitably come along. If anything, we see our actions as contributing to its end – the end of destructive lockdowns and the end of the attempt to institutionalize the debilitating fear of viral infections.”
GraceLife Church has almost 400 congregants and not one has been lost to the virus. However, one of their congregants did die after government-imposed restrictions prevented him from receiving cancer treatment in February.