Alex antoneshyn
CTVActualitésEdmontonca Digital Journalist


A fence was erected around an Alberta church after its congregation gathered for months in violation of provincial COVID-19 ordinances

Chain link fences surrounded GraceLife Church and its parking lot in Parkland County west of Edmonton on Wednesday morning

Alberta Health Services said it has “physically closed” the building and prevented access until GraceLife “can demonstrate its ability to comply with the restrictions of the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta.”

Security and RCMP were also on the scene. The police told CTV News Edmonton they were there “to help with law enforcement”

The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents Coates and GraceLife in court, called Wednesday’s closure a denial of Charter freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and worship.

Places of worship are allowed to accommodate services with a capacity of 15%, physical distance and masks

Pastor James Coates was indicted – and jailed for several weeks – for refusing to comply with public health orders, and the church as a whole was indicted itself earlier in the year and sentenced to close by AHS

His trial was scheduled for May 3, but JCCF chairman John Carpay said the government had requested a postponement until July 2021 to prepare its evidence

“The government has had 13 months to assemble a scientific and medical base to justify its violations of our fundamental Charter freedoms. It is unacceptable and totally undemocratic for the government to shut down the GraceLife Church in connection with the enforcement of health ordinances, while seeking to delay the Charter challenge to the validity of these same orders”

Coates, in a February sermon, said that civil governments exist to serve God’s plan – a plan that includes freedom of worship

“(Any) attempt to dictate the terms of worship to us is outside the purview of the government, and I refuse to give the government what is not theirs,” Coates said at the time.

In a statement posted on its website in February, the church questioned the severity of the pandemic He said the restrictions caused much worse damage to public health than the virus and feared they were a Trojan horse to strip people of their civil liberties.

The situation has been a point of criticism against the United Conservative government of Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s top doctor Deena Hinshaw, who have been accused of a double standard in law enforcement or a lack of willingness to support the warnings Both stressed that they could not get involved in day-to-day decisions on police charges

AHS described its efforts to work with the church to follow the rules as “collaborative” More recently, AHS says it sent a letter to Coates “providing it with information on the continued spread of COVID-19”

“Last week, AHS invited Pastor Coates to meet virtually to discuss the risks presented by COVID-19, but the church has provided no date to meet,” a statement read. “(GraceLife Church) has decided not to follow these mandatory restrictions and has also not attempted to work with AHS to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19”

Between July 2020 and April 6, 2021, AHS received 105 complaints about GraceLife and performed 18 inspections Violations were found with every inspection, AHS noted

Opposition and NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she was happy to see AHS finally take action to enforce public health orders at the church

“I hope that members of the GraceLife congregation will take this opportunity to learn from the leadership of so many other communities who have continued to practice their faith in a way that is safe not only for themselves, but also for themselves. the Alberta community as a whole, ”she wrote on Twitter.

A fence surrounded GraceLife Church in Parkland County west of Edmonton in the early morning of April 7, 2021

A fence surrounded GraceLife Church in Parkland County west of Edmonton in the early morning of April 7, 2021

A fence surrounded GraceLife Church in Parkland County west of Edmonton in the early morning of April 7, 2021

GraceLife Church

World News – CA – Fence mounts around Alta Church refusing to follow COVID-19 orders