Jailed pastor calls in to service as GraceLife Church violates COVID-19 closure order for sixth time

Associate pastor Jacob Spenst conducted Sunday’s service, but said Coates was joining in over the phone although he didn’t speak

An Alberta Health Services closure order is visible posted on the front door of GraceLife Church, in Spruce Grove Friday March 5, 2021. GraceLife church Pastor James Coates lost an appeal of his bail conditions on Friday. Coates has been jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre for the past two weeks after continuing to hold worship services without face masks, capacity limits, or physical distancing.An Alberta Health Services closure order is visible posted on the front door of GraceLife Church, in Spruce Grove Friday March 5, 2021. GraceLife church Pastor James Coates lost an appeal of his bail conditions on Friday. Coates has been jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre for the past two weeks after continuing to hold worship services without face masks, capacity limits, or physical distancing. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

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A Parkland County church held another packed service Sunday morning with its jailed pastor on the phone despite a closure order for COVID-19 restriction violations.

Vehicles packed the parking lot of GraceLife Church before the service and two marked RCMP vehicles were on site. People could be seen singing unmasked, breaking COVID-19 orders, on a livestream of the service.

This was the third-straight service held without church pastor James Coates who remains in the Edmonton Remand Centre. Coates was charged for breaching COVID-19 orders on Feb. 7 and was taken into custody on Feb. 16 after another service was held.

Associate pastor Jacob Spenst conducted Sunday’s service, but said Coates was joining in over the phone although he didn’t speak.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Curtis Peters told Postmedia there is no immediate information on enforcement from Sunday’s service, but said there will be “a fulsome update (Monday) for the media.”

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