By Elizabeth Prata
A week ago, I wrote a piece on This is How a Church Resists Tyranny. I’d written, “GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta Canada is a normal, every day church. They have a couple of pastors, a medium sized congregation, earnestly teach and preach the word, and do this Sunday by Sunday, like any church. However, since December, they were told to limit attendance and comply with COVID health measures or face legal consequences.” The church issued a public statement outlining their stance, the whys and wherefores according to the Bible.
Those consequences came today. Their pastor, James Coates, was arrested and jailed. For what? The ‘crime’ of preaching. Mike Hovlund ( @MikeHovlund) was co-pastor with James Coates until Mike planted a church himself. He is up-to-date on the latest news (if you care to follow @MikeHovlund on Twitter) and said of the events of today:
“One of the brethren saw James coming out of court with cuffs on his wrists and ankles. He was apparently being taken to the remand centre. What is happening in our country? This is a faithful servant of Christ. His crime? Preaching the good news of salvation through Christ. … I will keep you all up to date as I am able. Today I’m driving to meet with the elders of GraceLife to determine what we should do now that we lost our beloved pastor. Pray for us! Christ is worthy of all glory and honor!” ~Mike Hovlund.
One of the conditions of Pastor Coates’ release is that he stop preaching. He refused. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that all Canadians have the right of free expression, and no discrimination may be made based on “race, national ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” According to the accredited agency, CanadianVisa, “In Canada’s view, freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to worship in peace and security, is a universal human right.”
Dr. Coates’ wife Erin wrote,
Dr. Coates is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary, and is standing strong for the Gospel. One would have thought as these pastors are graduated and sent forth into the world planting churches, that persecution and jail time would have come from a different region, but here is Canada doing its part to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
I would like to bring your attention also to the next door neighbor to Alberta, British Columbia. Not to be left behind, BC government is also harassing churches and threatening with jail time for remaining open and worshiping.
Christian Post: “A Canadian province is seeking a court injunction against three congregations that have reportedly been meeting despite a ban on in-person worship services. British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry filed the complaint against the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church of Abbotsford, and Riverside Calvary Chapel of Langley.”
The injunction was denied today on the basis that first, the churches have not had their day in court yet, and secondly, that though the Judge is not condoning the churches’ conduct in contravention of the orders that they challenge, the BC government has other means to pursue rather than court at present. The have promised they will pursue these other other means and will still try and shut down these churches. It should be noted that the rates of Covid infections in these churches’ province (British Columbia) is declining. Other in-person businesses are allowed to remain open, such as bars and ski resorts. Indeed, other churches have been allowed to gather in person to worship without the same harassment and fines at these three. These 3 churches’ court hearing will begin March 1 through to March 3.
Meanwhile James Coates in in jail, and his children are missing a father tonight and who knows for how long. His wife is left to explain to the kids, and to face an uncertain future, separated from her husband. It should not be so, but it is so. The word hates us, because they first hated Jesus.
Here is Pastor Coates’ last sermon this past Sunday, FULL SERMON – GraceLife Church – Feb 14, 2021 (Romans 13:1-4) “Directing Government to its Duty“. I have not heard it yet but people say it is tremendous.
There is certainly much suffering happening in the world today, but Jesus told us this would happen. Prepare yourself to be confronted, to make decisions about what your answers will be, your job, your church, and more.
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. The one who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘THEY HATED ME FOR NO REASON.’ John 15:18-25