Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, was arrested on Sunday afternoon for breaching public health regulations after holding another church service without required mask usage, capacity limitations, or physical distancing.
According to, the Calgary Herald, the pastor was arrested during a service at the church, located at 230 78th Avenue S.E., that allegedly breached "public health measures and a pre-emptive injunction." Stephens received a copy of the Court of Queen's Bench order last weekend, which was acquired by Alberta Health Services in order to target organizers of meetings that challenged health laws.
"The pastor acknowledged the injunction but chose to move forward with today's service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees," Calgary police said in a joint statement with AHS on Sunday.
This isn't the first time Fairview Baptist Church has disobeyed health department orders. Several penalties have been levied against the church for breaking rules in recent months, and services were relocated to an unknown site for a month in January and February before reverting to their property in southeast Calgary.
According to the press release, "officers did not enter the church during Sunday's service." Health authorities, on the other hand, have been working with religious leaders for weeks to resolve the lingering issues.
According to their statement, "CPS has received repeated calls from concerned citizens regarding church services held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks."
On May 5, Stephens published a note on Fairview Baptist Church's website, claiming that limiting church capacity would make no difference.
Stephens remarked, "Our actions are borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture."
He went on to say that, despite the potentially disastrous consequences, they would stick to their convictions rather than succumb to the consequences of breaking state laws.
Meanwhile, organizers of a central Alberta rodeo were given an exemption from continuing public health restrictions by Alberta Health on Saturday
The Alberta High School Rodeo Association organized the event, which included junior and senior high school students and began Saturday afternoon in Ponoka, roughly 60 kilometers north of Red Deer.
AHS claim that rodeos are permitted to take place in Alberta provided they are given an exception from the existing COVID-19 rules, which prohibit any indoor recreational events in the province. Those who have been given an exemption must adhere to "strict health precautions" in order to avoid the spread of the virus.
Only rodeo competitors, venue employees, rodeo employees, and judges who are important to the rodeo are permitted at the arena, according to the regulations. Audiences in person are not allowed.
When contacted by Postmedia on Saturday, an Alberta High School Rodeo Association official said the organization would issue a press release announcing their exemption in two weeks but would not comment until then.
Pastor Tim Stephens now joins the ranks of GraceLife Church's Pastor James Coates and Cave of Adullam Church's Pastor Artur Pawlowski. Both preachers and their congregations are continuing to fight for their constitutional rights in the face of an increasing focus on churches that defy COVID restrictions.
Watch Pastor Tim Stephens explain to his congregation why they must gather in worship despite the government's rules.