Surprise – pastor arrested after allegedly violating COVID-19 rules

A Calgary pastor has been arrested over accusations of violating public COVID-19 health restrictions.

Tim Stephens, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested previously in May.

Officers arrested Stephens again on Monday afternoon for failing to comply with a court order.

Calgary police said they received repeated calls about services being held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks. Police said Stephens was served with a copy of a Court of Queen’s Bench order to comply on the weekend.

A news release said Stephens acknowledged the injunction, but then “chose to move forward with an illegal outdoor service, ignoring requirements for social distancing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.”

Police said the illegal outdoor service was held at Ralph Klein Park in the city’s southeast.

Alberta Health Services said it had attempted to work with leaders at Fairview Baptist Church to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site.

“It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action,” a news release stated.

“It is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings. However, as we are still in a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

Police did not enter the church during the service.

Stephens remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on June 28.

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