This weekend, Westboro Baptist Church – based in Topeka, Kansas – plans to protest six Christian congregations in Gainesville, Georgia. The exact reasons for choosing these particular congregations are unknown, but Westboro is known for protesting churches, soldiers’ funerals, Jewish institutions (including the Holocaust Memorial Museum) and other locations and people.
The Gainesville congregations affected and the times of the protest are:
- First Baptist Church Gainesville: 8:00 to 8:30am
- St. John Baptist: 9:00 to 9:30am
- First Presbyterian: 9:30 to 10:00am
- St. Michael Roman Catholic Church: 10:00 to 10:30am
- Grace Episcopal: 10:15 to 10:45am
- Good Shepherd Lutheran: 10:30 to 11:00am
As reported by the Gainesville Times, the congregations plan to continue with their services as normal, and the police have procedures in place to ensure the safety of everyone.
I reached out to the congregations as well. Stephen P. Samuel, Senior Pastor/Teacher at St. John Baptist said, “… we will actually be in the first of our two worship services during the scheduled time of demonstration, as well as celebrating communion and baptism. Our Sunday morning activities will not be altered. All who desire to worship with us are welcome to come and hear the gospel preached as we give glory to God.” Likewise, Zach Hoffman, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran, said that they will worship as normal, but will go outside on their property during the protest time in order to engage in silent prayer in front of the protesters who will be across the street.
In addition to the Gainesville protests, Westboro plans a demonstration at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta from 3pm to 5pm, just prior to the Super Bowl.