Canada, not China: Police, ‘health’ officials force embattled church underground for Sunday service
EDMONTON, Alberta, April 14, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Members of a Christian church in Alberta were forced to meet underground on Sunday after their building was raided and fenced off by police for breaking coronavirus health rules.
In a first for modern-day Canada, members of Grace Life Church (Grace Life) located near Edmonton, Alberta, met this past Sunday in secret at an undisclosed location. At the same time, protesters were on site at the barricaded church property in support of the community.
The church’s pastor, James Coates — who spent 35 days in jail himself for defying COVID rules — directly addressed his church having to go underground.
“Well, good morning, Grace Life, it’s so good to see all of you. They can take our facility, but we’ll just find another one,” said Coates in a video of the underground service posted to Grace Life’s YouTube channel.
The church ensured that the faces of its congregants were blocked out in the video.
Shortly after Coates’ introductory notes, the video shows a clip of two congregants coming forward to lead the church in song. One of them then said, “Did you ever think you’d be part of the underground church?”
Coates’ sermon focused mainly on Psalm 2:1-12, which talks about “the Messiah’s triumph and kingdom.”
“As we read Psalm 2, I want you to consider that what we see taking place in this Psalm, though it really describes something yet future to us, is a sense in which this is taking right now at present,” said Coates.
Later in his sermon, Coates said that governments worldwide are “counseling together” to oppress those they govern.
“Governments all over the world are counseling together in a unified effort to oppress the people they govern. In that context, those who are faithful, those who follow Christ and confess that Jesus is Lord are going to be the ones they have to silence and get out of the way, because everyone else is going to fall in line.”
“It’s going to be the Lord’s people who stand and herald him as king and call governments to submit to him as king and to govern in accord with the very Word that will judge them on judgment day. Even as we think about our own government, we have called them to their duty. Unmistakably, we have directed them to their duty. They know they are going to be judged in accord with the word of God, that the word of God is going to be the standard with which they are assessed and evaluated and they still continue to persevere in their obstinacy. This is defiance.”
On April 7, Grace Life was barricaded by police for defying coronavirus health rules. The church had until that point stayed open despite a local health order mandating its closure. Coates and other church elders had refused to comply with draconian coronavirus regulations.
This past Sunday, many supporters gathered in protest in front of the barricaded facility, with the vast majority of those on-site singing hymns, and a handful tearing down a portion of fencing that was later put back up.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the legal representatives for Grace Life, issued a statement on Sunday on behalf of the church, saying their congregants were not part of the protests.
Coates told LifeSiteNews late last week that he, along with his congregation, would not be gathering at Grace Life.
Coates said of the barricading of his church last Wednesday that for him the real “shock factor” came when he was thrown in jail.
“I think the shock factor was breached when I ended up behind bars, so at this point in time, we’re well into the shock factor,” Coates told LifeSiteNews. “Them seizing our facility is just another step in the saga of our government going toe to toe with the king and Lord of lords.”
Current Alberta COVID rules state that churches and other places of worship can operate at no more than 15 percent of the capacity allowed by the building fire code. Masks are mandatory, as are the sanitation of hands and keeping away from other people.