Police in Alberta have arrested a third pastor for holding church services in defiance of public health orders.
On Sunday, Calgary Police arrested Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church for organizing an event that violated masking orders and attendance limits on religious services.
Video taken from the scene shows Pastor Stephens embracing his family and members of the congregation before entering a police vehicle.
“The government has obviously turned up the heat on churches and discouraged them from gathering together, but I don’t think they understand that Christians are committed to follow the lord Jesus Christ regardless of the consequences,” Pastor Stephens told Rebel News shortly before his arrest.
Earlier in May, Alberta Health Services (AHS) received a pre-emptive injunction to stop various gatherings and rallies that violate public health orders across the province.
In a joint statement, Calgary Police Services (CPS) and AHS cited the alleged violations of the injunction as the reason for the arrest. AHS claims they served Pastor Stephens a copy of the injunction last week.
“Once again, CPS acknowledges it is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest. However, as we are still in a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing,” the statement reads.
“AHS strongly encourages all Albertans to follow public health orders to help minimize spread and protect others.”
Two other pastors have been arrested in Alberta this year for holding church services. Pastors James Coates and Artur Pawlowski have also spent time in prison for holding religious services that violate Alberta’s strict limitations.
Further Information –
Arrested Calgary Pastor Says Church Has Had Zero COVID Cases
Churches in Alberta have been limited to a maximum occupancy of 15 people in order to slow the spread of the virus.
“Restricting the church to 15 people — which essentially restricts the church from gathering — is against the will of Christ and against the conscience of many who desire to worship the Lord of glory according to his word,” Stephens wrote in a blog post to the church’s websitefollowing the updated restrictions earlier this month. He added that he planned to continue to meet despite public safety laws.
The pastor also wrote in a blog post that his church has seen no COVID-19 cases.
“By God’s grace, our church has not had a single transmission of COVID19 in a year of gathering together weekly. We have encouraged those who are sick to stay home and for everyone to be proactive with their health to combat sicknesses we will inevitably encounter,” Stephens wrote.
In a video posted to YouTube on May 9, Stephens took a few minutes before his sermon to explain why his congregation gathers for worship even when it is outlawed by the governing authorities.
One week prior to his arrest, Stephens had been served a copy of the Court of Queen’s Bench Order secured by Alberta Health Services (AHS).
HD Editor’s Note: Why Is This News Biblically Relevant?
The Bible says that Christians, especially as we near the return of Christ, should not forsake the gathering of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). When we are faced with the choice between following Government orders or God’s Word our responsibility is to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
We were told in the last days “all who live godly in Christ” will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We are also told that a global government would arise with the leader being the “antichrist,” who would kill Christians for lack of participation in his deceptive and blasphemous system (Revelation 13). Should we be surprised governments prior to this leader taking the stage are in opposition to Biblical truth and morality?
If you’re a Christian today, you will not have to face that period of time where the antichrist is reining, and the wrath of God is poured out onto the whole earth (Revelation 3:10). We will be taken out of the way before he comes onto the scene in the “Rapture of the Church” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
However, that doesn’t negate our responsibility to, by the Holy Spirit, work to be a restraining force to the evil of the present day (2 Thessalonians 2:7). We need to be unwilling to be censored from saying truth from the word of God, even if we face man’s consequences. We need to not allow the godless agendas this world is propagating to be pushed through our pulpits as well. We need to instead unashamedly counteract lies with Biblical accuracy, free of conforming, toning down, or silencing our message.
Compromise doesn’t save the lost. The perfect truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does.