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Protesters crash church to tell lesbian pastors you’re ‘going to hell’

Emma Murphy January 27, 2017

Protesters crashed a church with lesbian pastors to tell them they are “going to hell”, but didn’t quite get the response they expected.

Instead of bowing to anti-gay pressure, the Calvery Baptist Church in Washington DC reaffirmed its dedication to social justice and human rights.

The group of demonstrators descended on the church on January 22, to protest the appointment of a lesbian couple as co-pastors.

The anti-gay demonstrators arrived before morning worship began and made their way to the pulpit, carrying signs and shouting slogans, before being confronted by church members.

Associate pastor Elijah Zehyoue explained that the group of five to seven people were moved on by police, but they regrouped on the sidewalk and began “aggressively engaging” churchgoers who arrived for the 11 am service and passersby.

He said: “It was pretty difficult to get them [protestors] to stop and leave the sanctuary. Outside they were still pretty aggressive with members and visitors and random passersby who looked like they may have been coming to the church.”

The protesters, who did not identify themselves as members of any particular group, told the church members that they were “going to hell” for their support of LGBTQ pastors and claimed that the church was “the house of Satan”.

Church moderator Becky Vaughn, said: “While the language was not comfortable, it was still basically peaceful. There was no effort to do harm, and they did move out to the sidewalk.”

She explained that about 15 church members remained by the doors, whilst the protesters were on the sidewalk. She said that members sang hymns, prayed and assured the protesters that God loved them, as did the church.

Following the demonstration, associate pastor Erica Lea continued with a sermon on Unity.

She noted that Unity is not about glossing over issues to keep the peace, but rather claiming issues and standing up for the community; whether the cause is LGBTQ rights or Black Lives Matter.

At the congregation’s annual meeting, following the church service, they decided to identify as a ‘sanctuary church’; something which had been in debate for months.

It will shelter immigrants in fear of deportation and seek to provide funds for legal assistance as well.

Zehyoue said: “As disturbing as it was, the protest was a good moment where many of our church members were energised and found the presence of the Holy Spirit on the steps of our church and that was a powerful moment.”

He then jokingly referred to the protest and the sanctuary decision as “just another Sunday at Calvary.”

Calvary, which has a long history of standing up for social justice, announced its new hires, Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen, on January 9.

The pair, who were ordained in 2015 by First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., got married on the first weekend after same-sex marriage was legalised in South Carolina.

They are currently chaplains in Greenville and are scheduled to start in DC on February 26.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time that LGBTQ+ religious leaders and their churches have been targeted.

More: Calvery Baptist Church, lesbian, protest, protesters, Religion, US, Washington DC

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