The pastor of GraceLife church has returned after being jailed for 35 days for breaching coronavirus restrictions in Alberta, Canada.
“It's a blessing to be back” Pastor Coates said during the church’s Sunday sermon. “I'm incredibly overwhelmed. I don't think I understand the fullness of what's happened, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around everything,” he continued.
On 22nd March, Pastor Coates was released from prison, following a row with local authorities where he was found guilty of breaking coronavirus distancing and capacity rules while holding in-person services.
He was charged and held in custody for a few days from 7th February but was then released on the condition of complying with coronavirus rules. However, the church continued violating restrictions and a week later Pastor Coates was charged with contravention of the Public Health Act.
“This is all to the Lord. It is amazing to me how one act of obedience in a little wee RCMP office (Royal Canada Mounted Police) in little wee Spruce Grove (the city) could have the impact that it did. I couldn't sign that condition and the rest is history,” he continued.
Under current restrictions in Alberta, places of worship are allowed to host up to 15 per cent of their capacity when distancing can be maintained, and masks should be worn.
While Pastor Coates was away, GraceLife Church continued to hold in-person services with Health Authorities accusing the church of violating regulations.
“I am immensely thankful to the Lord to you. I love you and I've missed you dearly. And I'm excited to be back,” Pastor Coates added.