Edmonton Police hold a GraceLife Church Paster on one criminal charge and two counts of flouting public health rules.
This past Sunday, a member of Alberta’s Health Service and the RCMP visited the church to assess the Pastor’s compliance with bail requirements, the police stated earlier this week.
The police found that the church was not following public health guidelines. The guidelines stipulate that the attendance must be lowered to 15 percent of church capacity and congregants to observe physical distancing rules.
Pastor James Coates surrendered to the RCMP Parkland police department, preferred the charges, and had his day in court before a judge of the peace.
He would have been allowed to go home had he not refused to agree to the requirements accompanying his bail conditions.
He was remanded in custody overnight and appeared before the Stony Plain provincial court. He was still adamant about meeting the conditions. The judge issued an order that would see him appear in court on February 24th.
During an interview on Wednesday, his lawyer, James Kitchen, stated that Pastor agreed to a February 7th undertaking the RCMP police issued that required him to follow public health guidelines. He added that the police did not present the paster before the judge handled the matter.
The lawyer noted that the church’s paster behavior should not be misinterpreted as wanton rebellion. He added that the church’s perspective is that this pandemic is causing more harm to their community than gathering in groups would, noting that no church member has succumbed to the virus.
The lawyer’s employer has written to the premier requesting that Coast be released. With Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the Chief medical officer’s order against churches rescinded.
The paster had been in contravention of public health guidelines since December last year. He issued a $1200 ticket for going against the chief medical officer’s order after health officials noticed that his church exceeded stipulated limits.