Third pastor in Canada arrested for violating COVID-19 restrictions

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The third church leader to be arrested in Canada this month, Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in southeast Calgary was arrested Sunday for holding a service in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. Local authorities said the arrest was made after weeks of attempting to collaborate with church leadership to address ongoing health concerns.

Canada currently allows gatherings of only 15 people, in addition to mask-wearing and social distancing; for several weeks local residents had complained to police about services being held at Fairview Baptist.

In a joint May 16 statement about the arrest, Calgary Police and Alberta Health Services said Stephens was arrested for ‘’organizing a church service that was held today at Fairview Baptist Church that did not comply with public health orders, including masking, physical distancing, and attendance limits.” However, the authorities said, “The Pastor acknowledged the injunction, but chose to move forward with today’s service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.”

The pastor was arrested during the Sunday service, without police entering the building.“It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action,” the authorities explained in their statement.

Stephens follows Alberta church leaders and brothers Artur and Dawid Pawlowski who, after going ahead with their church services, were arrested and charged earlier this month for “organizing an illegal in-person gathering, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal gathering and promoting and attending the meeting.”