Another Alberta pastor was arrested yesterday morning ahead of a church service for failing to heed provincial health orders related to COVID-19.
According to a release shared by Calgary police, the two arrests were made due to a Saturday service that was deemed to be in violation of a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services (AHS).
The Court of Queen's Bench order obtained by AHS imposes new restrictions on gathering organizers, requiring compliance with provincial health orders such as proper masking, social distancing, and group sizes. The order applies to gatherings, including protests, demonstrations, and rallies.
Polish immigrant pastor Artur Pawlowski from Calgary had received a health order which listed rules that must be followed this Sunday in order to remain open, CBN News reports.
Pawlowski, who is known as a street preacher, leads a congregation called Street Church in Calgary.
A warrant for another Alberta pastor's arrest was issued May 6, pending Pawlowski's alleged violation of COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the Calgary Police Service (CPS), police lawfully enforced the AHS order Sunday morning by "proactively serving an organizer of a church service with the court order in an effort to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service were abiding by the current COVID-19 public health orders."
The order was reportedly served prior to the church service and police did not enter the church during the service.
Police say the service organizers acknowledged the injunction but "chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing, and reduced capacity limited for attendees, and continued with the event."
Both Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski have been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting, or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering; and promoting and attending an illegal public gathering.
The trial for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, who was arrested in early February 2021 for holding worship gatherings that allegedly violated Alberta public health orders, began Monday and is ongoing.
Coates reportedly received a similar health order before he was sent to prison for more than a month for not following it.
Pawlowski has been pushing back against officials who have come to his church and became known when police attended his church on Easter weekend to check for compliance with restrictions.
Prior to the two arrests, the church called the police response "heavy-handed," according to CBN News.
"It is important to understand that law enforcement recognize people's desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest," CPS say in their May 8 release.
"However, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone's safety and wellbeing."