Alberta pastor charged: Sunday church services violated COVID-19 rules

·1 min read

EDMONTON — The pastor of an Edmonton-area church that had been holding Sunday services with as many as 300 people has been charged with violating COVID-19 health rules.

RCMP say James Coates of GraceLife Church is charged with violating one count of the Public Health Act, and is to appear in Stony Plain provincial court on March 31.

The church on Edmonton’s western edge has been clashing with health authorities for two months over COVID-19 rules and had ignored an order to close down.

Faith-based services are limited to 15 per cent of capacity and congregants must observe mask and distancing rules.

The church has been publicly defying public health measures and has said the pandemic is overblown and is unfairly restricting individual rights and freedoms.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, has not commented on GraceLife directly, but has said health rules are mandatory and need to be followed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press