Canadian pastor arrested for church service released from prison

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Tim Stephens, the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, speaks during a sermon in June 2020.(YouTube / Fairview Baptist Church)

A Canadian pastor says he is “grateful” to have been released from prison after being held for outdoor worship service.

Pastor Tim Stephens, of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alta., Was arrested on June 14 for service which local officials say violated Covid regulations.

The service took place outside after health officials forcibly closed his church.

He spent two and a half weeks in jail before being released Thursday, the same day Alberta lifted nearly all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, allowing churches to meet again indoors.

Speaking after his release, Stephens said he was grateful to God for supporting his church during the pandemic.

“Today is a very grateful day,” he said, according to Rebel News. “I am grateful that the restrictions are enforced and repealed, including the court orders that accompany them.

“[M]Most of all, I am grateful to God. I’m thankful that He built His church, that He supported our church at Fairview Baptist Church. I am grateful that He has strengthened me, my wife, and our family, and that through this people have come to know the saving love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“People have been strengthened in this country and around the world, and therefore, for these many reasons, I am grateful.”

Stephens had several run-ins with authorities during the pandemic over restrictive measures for places of worship.

In May, he was arrested for another service which allegedly flouted the rules of Covid-19. He spent two nights in prison before being released.

He still faces a court hearing on July 14 to determine the penalties, if any, he faces for violating Covid regulations.

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