The pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has been arrested for the second time after his congregation conducted an outdoor worship session at an unknown site following the local government's decision to shut the church building.
Pastor Tim Stephens, according to Christian Post, was arrested Monday after refusing to follow by the Alberta Health Services order to cease from conducting worship services that do not meet the COVID-19 provincial regulations.
"He was arrested for hosting an illegal outdoor gathering that did not comply with current restrictions," police told CBC News.
As reported by Rebel News, the group gathered at an unknown location for services throughout the weekend. Notwithstanding, an armed police helicopter flew above the crowd as the service proceeded. Rebel News said that it's unclear if authorities were actively looking for them or just stumbled upon their meeting.
Minutes later, police cars were spotted surrounding the area, but they, at least, reportedly did not attempt to interrupt the service or make arrests.
However, according to the Calgary Herald, officers made the arrest at Pastor Stephen's residence on Monday afternoon.
His children can be seen on video footage of the arrest, which was taken by Rebel News, sobbing uncontrollably as their father is carried away.
Canadian reporter Adam Soos approached the police and questioned as to "why Jason Kenney gets a free pass and you're arresting pastors across the province." The police did not comment on that.
CP noted that the reporter's remark was made in response to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's meal with cabinet members on June 1 that did not adhere to the province's public health regulations that were strictly imposed on churches.
A call for prayer from his wife
The arrest of Tim Stephens for conducting an outdoor service and his refusal to sign the bail condition that would keep him in police prison until his next court appearance on June 28 were announced on Twitter by Stephens' wife, Raquel, early Tuesday morning.
Along with the pastor's Monday tweet indicating that police are on their way to arrest him, Raquel added a section from the pastor's letter to his children after his arrest last month.
"The government has now seized both Fairview's building and her pastor," she wrote.
"AHS still wants Tim to tell people what to wear, where to stand,and to forbid some people from being the church," she noted, but she remained hopeful that her husband's imprisonment would strengthen their faith and embolden them to obey Christ regardless of the cost.
She also asked for prayers for her husband's immediate release.
Sean Feucht, the "Let Us Worship" leader, reacted to the unsettling footage of Pastor Tim's arrest by stating it that "shows how crazy communist Canada has become."
"The scariest part is how apathetic we've become to this sort of thing in 2021," he commented.
Stephens is currently represented by Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
"It appears that Premier Kenney's government is targeting its enemies, those who are speaking out against lockdown restrictions and for Charter freedoms," said Jay Cameron, the lawyer.
"Punishing dissent" and not "public safety," he claimed, was the driving force behind barring Fairview Baptist members from the church's services and arresting Pastor Tim Stephens.