A pastor at an Oregon church got an unpleasant surprise last weekend when his Sunday sermon was interrupted by a man spewing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Pastor Don Frueh, who is openly gay, was about 25 minutes into his Feb. 19 sermon at Portland’s Parkrose Community United Church of Christ when an unknown man in the congregation began clapping loudly, KATU reports. The man appeared to be angered by Frueh’s “Loving Otherness” sermon, which included a short video about how to combat discrimination, and approached the altar, where he began shouting homophobic comments.
“I’m here to tell you that homosexuality is wrong, and what you’re doing is wrong. Homosexuality is an abomination to God,” the man said. “You are here because a man and a woman had sex, OK? You’re not here because two guys had sex. You’re not here because two girls had sex.”
You can watch the full sermon below. The protester’s comments begin around 25:56.
As the man was shouting from his stance near the pulpit, a group of parishioners formed a semi-circle around him, and escorted him outside.
Frueh opened up about the experience in a post on the church’s official Facebook page that day. Included in the post was the pro-inclusion video that had been shown at the service before the man interrupted.
“As I reflect on the service and the prayers which came, it is clear to me that following Jesus’s example is not without risk, and at the same time, it shows how love wins,” he wrote. Noting that congregants offered prayers for the man who interrupted the service after he’d been ushered off the altar, he added, “Our work is not easy, my friends. It is not for the faint of heart. But it is for all who wish to see a world at peace where everyone is valued and held as sacred.”
Frueh told The Huffington Post that one of his congregants called the police at the time of the incident, but that officers arrived after the man had left the scene. The pastor will offer a special moment at the start of his Feb. 26 service to acknowledge his congregants’ concerns, he said, but ultimately, sees the incident as a reminder for everyone “to be as open and welcoming as we can be.”
“When all is said and done, we are called to live what we understand as the Gospel of Jesus, we are called to welcome everyone, and we will continue to do that while acknowledging the risks,” Frueh told HuffPost. “The mat in front of our doors says ‘Extravagant Welcome’ and we mean it.”