Hundreds of people gathered yesterday outside an Alberta church that's charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules.

Some tore down fences that Alberta Health Services had placed around GraceLife Church west of Edmonton, but RCMP immediately intervened and put them back up.

The church says in a statement that members of its congregation were not at the gathering.

An RCMP officer at GraceLife Church. (Screenshot: What's Up Canada/Facebook)A member of the RCMP stands in front of a fence at GraceLife Church. (Screenshot: What's Up Canada/Facebook)

"Grace Life Church has no control of our Church or grounds at this time," the statement says.

"The Church grounds are fully under the responsibility and control of the RCMP and Alberta Health Services. The closing of the Grace Life facility has understandably resulted in significant public outrage and caused even larger crowds to gather in one place. Albertans have a constitutional right to assemble, associate, and worship. By taking the measures the government has, while the matter is still pending before the Courts, the Alberta Government has created an even more divisive situation."

The church and its pastor, James Coates, are charged under the Public Health Act for holding services that break health restrictions related to capacity, physical distancing and masking.


With files from The Canadian Press