Saturday, March 31, 2018

A message to our community regarding the protesters last night...

The Good Friday Protesters
As many of you know, and witnessed, a group of picketers (roughly four in number) targeted St. Clement’s last night. The picketers were targeting the LGBTQ community and their allies and carried signs and yelled slurs.
My first reaction was worry, for all of you who had to witness this kind of hate. My second was the recognition that we were being targeted because we proclaim the Gospel—the Gospel that speaks to the love of all of God’s children. And, in this, I was glad. I was also deeply moved by the genuine love and care so many of you shared with me and each other as we faced this act of hate.
You, my beloved community, are amazing.
Now, that said, Bishop Brian Prior has been informed and sends a message of love and care to St. Clement’s. The police will be making extra patrols tonight as we gather for our Vigil services. And, in reaching out to my network of area clergy, it is clear that we are not the only ones who have been targeted by these protesters. At this point, we do not know where they are from or who has organized these protests.
Some wisdom and practical advice from my colleagues at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (adapted for our use and used with permission):
Don’t engage, and certainly don’t get in an argument.  This is exactly what they want.  They want to say much more than is on their sign.  Let’s not give them the chance.  There’s probably no way you’ll change their mind, anyway.  If you need to say anything, say, “you are a beloved child of God” or “Jesus loves you.” EDITED TO ADD--the protestors have gone to a variety of churches and carry mace (a parishioner in another congregation was maced). Do not engage, walk past, ignore, and shepherd each other to vehicles or into the building. 
Pray for the protestor when you get in your car.  Pray with your family.  This is a chance to witness to a loving Christianity.  Be careful in front of children that we don’t act as judgmental as the protestor.
Pray for those affected by the message.  For many, seeing hateful messages brings up painful memories, even trauma, of being judged by the church that was supposed to represent a loving God.  If you experienced pain, please reach out to the clergy and staff.  We’re here for you!
Let church leadership know so that further action can be considered.  Following last night’s protest (Good Friday) I notified the St. Paul police and requested additional patrols for tonight’s vigil service. Note that the police cannot remove or stop protesters as long as they stay on public property (the sidewalk).  
Tell your friends that St. Clement’s welcomes everybody all the time.  We know who we are, and we know of God’s love. This incident is a powerful reminder of how desperately the world needs our message of Jesus’ compassion and God’s grace.
Yours in Christ,

1 comment:

David Eidsvaag said...

The church should be a welcoming place. It also is a place of calling. Jesus said, "Follow me". In what? The training of the righteousness of God. Christ is our righteousness. We have to make a framework with our understanding of the laws of God. We are Rebels who don't want to comply with those laws, but Christ and give us a new heart. "Training is not pleasant", said Paul, the Apostle. Heaven is full of citizens who are soldiers on the March. What is the March? The march to tell others of how to be pleasing to God through Christ. That is what people don't like about the gospel. It asked them to leave behind things to know the Holiness of God.