Bethany Lutheran Church Rally

Bethany Lutheran Church is standing up for its church and justice, not a political party, according to pastor Cheryl Walenta Gorvie.

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Lake Highlands neighbors gathered at Bethany Lutheran Church on Walnut Hill Lane around 3 p.m. Oct. 23 holding up various signs, some reading “God is Love,” “Black Lives Matter” and “United Against Racism.”

The gathering was organized by the church’s pastor and Lowry Manders, an admin of the Lake Highlands Area Moms Against Racism Facebook group. Gorvie and Manders organized the event after two people held up Republican party campaign signs and a sign that read “God is in the Republican Party” on the church’s property Wednesday morning, they said. 

“They weren’t doing anything wrong, but we did feel that they were misrepresenting [Bethany Lutheran Church],” Manders said. 

Gorvie said the church does not endorse political candidates and campaigns. One reason the two people protested at the church was due to Black Lives Matter signs that were up a few months before, she said after approaching the protestors on Wednesday.

“They said, ‘We think all lives matter,’” Gorvie said.

The protestors complied with the pastor’s request to move onto the sidewalk, she said. 

In years past, Bethany Lutheran Church served as a polling site, and the church’s council has created policies on campaign signs and the number of people allowed on the property. 

“We’ve never had a problem with campaign signs in the right context,” Gorvie said.

After photos of the Wednesday protest surfaced on social media, Gorvie said many Lake Highlands neighbors discussed the ways churches can spread their messaging— and the Friday gathering was one way.

“It turned out that there were others in the community who think it’s important that churches are able to advocate for God,” Gorvie said. “That’s what we’re here for, not advocating for a candidate but for God and for justice.”