Tim Stephens, a Canadian pastor arrested in Calgary, Alberta, was released from jail Thursday following his arrest for holding outdoor church services.
“The Fairview Baptist Church pastor was arrested after police in a helicopter discovered where Stephens was holding worship services,” Faithwire reported Friday.
Law enforcement officers later arrived at his home and took him into custody while his children cried.
Following his release, officials also reopened his church to the congregation, according to World.
“Police arrested Stephens on June 14 for not enforcing pandemic health protocols at an outdoor worship service. Authorities had changed the locks at his church earlier in June. He must return to court on July 14 for a hearing on his alleged health order violations,” the report said.
Rebel News shared video footage of the pastor being reunited with his family after his release:
Stephens told the outlet:
Most of all, I’m thankful for God. I’m thankful that he’s built his church, that he’s sustained our church at Fairview Baptist Church through this time. I’m thankful that he’s strengthened me, my wife, and our family, and that through this people have come to know the saving love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through this, people have been strengthened in this country and around the world, and so for these and many reasons, I’m thankful.
“Today is a very thankful day. I’m thankful that the restrictions are done and rescinded, including the court orders that go along with that,” he added.
In a press release Thursday, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms confirmed Fairview Baptist Church and Grace Life Church near Edmonton were “unchained and released from government seizure.”
“While refusing to present any medical or scientific evidence in court to justify public health orders, the Alberta government has gained international notoriety by jailing three different pastors,” Jay Cameron, Justice Centre Litigation Director, said.