‘Our gatherings are essential’: Pastor fined after Calgary church ordered to follow COVID protocols

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But the inspector saw no effort to ensure social distancing between family groups within the church, according to the report. It stated that “rows in the auditorium were full, with people sitting side by side and with the rows of seats themselves not distanced.”

The report noted that the pastor and all church staff and volunteers were unmasked.

An Alberta Health Services inspector noted numerous violations at the Fairview Baptist Church in the southeast community of Fairview. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

When asked by the inspector, the pastor could not provide an accurate number of how many people were in the building, according to the report.

The AHS order calls on the pastor to ensure staff, volunteers and attendees are masked at all times, and that physical distancing protocols are followed. Protocols must be in place by Friday, according to the order.

“Continued non-compliance with work orders could result in closure orders being issued,” AHS spokesman James Wood said in a statement.

Stephens said his church consists of “respectful, law-abiding citizens who care about the well-being of our fellow neighbours.

“Unfortunately, we’ve come to a situation where health orders make it impossible for us to obey God,” he said in an email.

Stephens said previous gathering restrictions, which limited places of worship to 30 per cent of usual occupancy, showed Premier Jason Kenney “understood our liberties protected under the charter.”

“If 30 per cent, in the mind of our premier, balanced our Charter freedoms and health restrictions, then is 15 per cent less than balanced? In considering our options, we decided to honour God and follow our religious convictions,” he said.

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