A GoFundMe set up to help a pastor who was jailed in Alberta, Canada, for allegedly violating the province’s public health order by holding church services has raised more than $45,000.
Pastor James Coates, who pastors GraceLife Church in the Edmonton area, was first arrested in February after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) repeatedly flagged his church for not abiding by public health orders that capped attendance at 15 percent capacity.
The RCMP later slapped the church with more charges when they continued to hold services while their pastor was imprisoned.
“The Church was non-compliant with the Public Health Order in that it was over the allowed capacity. The RCMP members were present for public safety and to support AHS, and did not go inside the church,” the RCMP said in a statement on March 10.
“Investigation continues into the church by AHS and supported by the Parkland RCMP. These charges are now before the court and further comments will not be available.”
As the GoFundMe page says of the case:
Pastor James Coates has been a rare and refreshing voice of courage in these unprecedent [sic] times. He has stood on the word of God faithfully, courageously and uncompromisingly as a man of God when all around him men falter and fail. Pastor James is facing what not too long ago would have been unheard of. He has been charged for having church service. This is in Alberta, in Canada friends. This is what it is coming to. I have no idea the extent of legal fees he has incurred but I’m raising money to benefit Pastor James and Gracelife Church of Edmonton, to do good as Galatians 6:10 exhorts us to, and any donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause.
After spending more than a month in jail, Coates was released Monday. As The Daily Wire reported:
Provincial court Judge Jeffrey Champion on Monday dropped all but one charge against Coates, according to The Canadian Press. The remaining charge against him alleges he violated gathering size restrictions under Alberta’s Public Health Act, for which he will stand trial in May. He was also fined $1,500, but Champion credited his 35 days in jail toward it and wrote it off.
Champion later suggested Coates did not shepherd his congregation well, given that he did not obey Alberta’s Public Health Act. Coates maintained he had no intention of making a point or being “a political revolutionary,” but was simply trying to do what he believes Jesus commanded.
“I realized that’s the way society is going to perceive what’s happening here,” Coates said. “[But] I’m simply here in obedience to Jesus Christ, and it’s my obedience to Christ that has put me at odds with the law.”