An Edmonton area church held a service again on Sunday, and the sermon chastised other churches for bowing to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

GraceLife Church associate pastor Jacob Spenst conducted yesterday's service, telling the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in from congregations and individuals across Canada and around the world.

Their pastor, James Coates, was arrested last week when the church continued to hold services that police allege violated COVID-19 restrictions. Coates remains in jail as he refuses to agree to bail conditions that would guarantee he will not hold services that violate gathering limits in Alberta.

RCMP say they, along with Alberta Health Services, were on hand. “Observations were made that the church held a service beyond the designated capacity,” the Parkland RCMP says in a release.

"Alberta’s government will always respect and protect the fundamental freedoms of religion and worship, period," Alberta premier Jason Kenney said in a statement on his Facebook page last week. He says that Alberta kept worship spaces open with gathering limits while many other provinces completely closed churches and other places of worship.

"Despite the best efforts of almost all congregations to worship in a careful way that protects vulnerable lives, one or two congregations have chosen flagrantly to violate all public health guidelines. In doing so, they are risking viral transmission that could cost vulnerable lives," Kenney said. "That is why I renew my call for all faith communities to responsibly exercise their freedom of worship in a way that shows love for our neighbours and regard for the weak and the vulnerable."

Police say they're still investigating.


With files from The Canadian Press