A special report from Pr. Keith Banwart, President – Lutherans Concerned/Los Angeles the Southern California Chapter of ReconcilingWorks
Dear friends in Christ:
As you may know, the Westboro “Baptist Church” (WBC) “godhatesfags.com” cult has announced that they will be picketing four different churches in Glendale on Sunday, January 12th beginning with Salem Lutheran Church. The WBC is a small cult from Topeka, Kansas generally belonging to one family who are filled with anger and hate toward most organizations and people in America. They picket the funerals of American service men and women, activities involving LGBTQ persons and a host of others. They are in town to picket at the Golden Globe awards ceremony that evening and have chosen to picket some of the largest churches in Glendale as well.
Many have asked to be a part of a non-confrontational, non-anxious, “Wall of Protection” that morning to both: protect worshipers (especially children) as they arrive at worship; and, to make it clear to the world that the church of Jesus Christ is a church of love and grace not hate and judgment.
You are your constituents are invited to join the “Wall of Protection” (NOT a “counter-protest,” per se) with us that morning. Please consider the following tips to keep in mind if you decide to join us:
1. If you are a member of one of the targeted congregations, please feel free to treat the day as any other Sunday and go to worship and be present that day at your home congregations.
2. If you join the “Wall of Protection” do NOT confront or yell at the hecklers from WBC. Nothing you say will change their hate-filled hearts or minds.
3. Do NOT physically confront them in any way.
4. Do NOT argue with them or talk to them – at all.
5. If the media should ask you to comment and you choose to do so you may wish to say something like, “We serve a God of grace who loves everyone and we are here to extend the hospitality and love of Jesus to all.”
6. There is no need to bring signs; however, rainbow flags are very welcome.
We will be gathering outside Salem Lutheran Church on Sunday January 12 at 7:30AM and then follow the WBC cult members from location to location. The schedule is printed below. Parking is limited so carpooling is encouraged. At Salem, street parking is available on Brand Blvd and on surrounding streets. The other three churches can all be reached from a parking garage near the intersection of Louise and Harvard which can be entered on Maryland.
Here is the schedule for the morning:
Salem Lutheran Church and Schoolin Glendale, CA January 12, 2014 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM
1211 North Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA. 91202
First United Methodist Church of Glendalein Glendale, CA January 12, 2014 8:45 AM – 9:15 AM
134 N Kenwood St, Glendale, CA 91206
Glendale Presbyterian Churchin Glendale, CA January 12, 2014 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
125 S Louise St, Glendale, CA 91205
Pastor Bernt Hillesland has prepared a brief litany which some congregations may find appropriate to use on Epiphany Sunday to “commission” those who plan to go to serve in the Wall of Protection. The text of the litany follows:
L.You were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.As you make your stand in God’s love,grace upon grace be with you.C. Grace upon grace be with you:L. The grace of God who made you,Who knit you together in your mother’s womb,Who knows that you are fearfully and wonderfully made;The Word with God who gives life and light to all people.
C. Grace upon grace be with you:L. The grace of God who holds you,Who hems you in, behind and before, and lays hands upon you;The God who delights in you and redeems you.Who chose you before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at this address. For everyone and every congregation, please take a moment to remember these four congregations in your prayers that day as the face of hatred and evil stand outside their doors. And pray for those who will join together in the Wall of Protection that we might be a true sign of the grace and love of Christ to the wider community.
A very blessed Epiphany to you all,
Pr. Keith Banwart
President – Lutherans Concerned/Los Angeles the Southern California Chapter of ReconcilingWorks