After spending over a month imprisoned for holding "illegal" church services, James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has more hurdles to jump—this time in the form of literal fences built around the perimeter of his church.
As of 8:30 a.m., police vehicles and unmarked SUVs were blocking entrances to the church parking lot.
"Alberta Health Services physically closed GraceLife Church and has prevented access to the building until GLC can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta's chief medical officer of health's (CMOH) restrictions," AHS said in a statement obtained by Global News Wednesday morning.
You can go to a Walmart or Costco or a liquor store or marijuana store. You can hold a Black Lives Matter rally and police will bend the knee.— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) April 7, 2021
But if you open a church, you'll be raided by police, and thrown in prison for 35 days.
Only in China and Iran -- and Alberta.
The Post Millennial initially reported on the building raid, which comes on the heels of Coates pleading guilty, being charged with a fine of $1,500, facing an upcoming trial and then reopening GraceLife for Easter after his release on March 22.
Coates' wife, Erin, shared a thought-provoking Instagram post in which she encouraged the faith community to continue to pray for not only their church, but those who believe in these actions.
Stomping on the enemy's attacks in fervent prayer is her plan to restore the faith community to meeting in its building once more. But as she highlights, the four walls cannot contain the petitions of God's people.
"Too bad the Church isn't a building, it's a blood bought people," she writes. "Christ has and will prevail. We have an enemy and that enemy has been defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ."
Pastor Wendell of Providence Baptist Church tweeted his support for GraceLife, urging those skeptical of the situation to see it as it is: Christian persecution. He says there's "no way to deny" government placing boundaries around church buildings is persecution.
But Wendell agrees with Erin Coates that all hope is not lost. "To those who think the gates and the fences are going to stop the church, I laugh," he says. "The Bible tells us not even the gates of hell are going to prevail against Christ's church."
Likewise, Derek Sloan, a member of the Canadian Parliament, called the act "tyrannical government overreach."
This morning, Alberta Health Services, with the RCMP, raided GraceLife Church in Edmonton. They're barring entry and have fenced off the building. This is tyrannical government overreach, and is a direct violation of Canadian Charter rights.#cdnnpolihttps://t.co/jyl9oljv31— MP Derek Sloan (@DerekSloanCPC) April 7, 2021
Not all Albertans are happy with GraceLife's decision to remain open against government COVID-19 orders. Two people stood outside the church building during its Easter service to protest, 660 City News reports.
"Jesus would say spread kindness not COVID," one sign read.
"We thought we would come and make a statement and use our voices," one protester said.
Another said, "We are people of faith, and we are unable to gather today. We have a large family, and we are unable to gather today. We think that all members of the community should follow the rules because that is a respectful way to live in a society."
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