Hundreds of Canadian Christians worshiped outside GraceLife church in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, many of them traveling great distances to join an outdoor celebration after national authorities had built a chain-link fence around the complex to prevent access.
Some worshipers began to tear down the barricade before being quickly met by Canadian riot police. Other worshipers shouted at those pulling down the fences to leave the barricade in place.
Unable to access the building, roughly 400 worshipers sang hymns and shared Scripture readings outdoors.
The minister of the church, Pastor James Coates, had previously spent 35 days in jail for his role in continuing to hold religious services despite government orders to cease in light of COVID-19 concerns. Coates's attorney, John Carpay, commented on the show of force by Canadian police.
"I'm very disappointed to see this kind of draconian and aggressive enforcement of health orders when these health orders themselves are being challenged in court," Carpay said. "It shows a very aggressive government that is not answering questions about its policies, but wants to push its weight around and try and make an example out of GraceLife Church."