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Tag: The Gathering Place Defiance

One Stop Baptism, and While You are There, Eat a Hot Dog and Drink Some Hot Chocolate

baptism

This Saturday, the City of Defiance, Ohio, will hold its annual Halloween Parade. Three of our grandchildren with be marching with their respective school bands in the parade. Several of our children and their families will be street side to watch the parade. While there, they, along with other bystanders, will have the opportunity to:

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The Gathering Place, a local charismatic church in downtown Defiance, is reaching out to the masses this Saturday, offering saints, sinners, and snarky atheists walk-in baptisms by immersion, along with hot dogs, hot chocolate, and candy.

Who thought up this nonsense? Did he or she bother to consider the theological implications or Biblical justification for baptizing people off the street? Imagine going to the parade, and while standing streetside with your family, you decide to get baptized (a rite of initiation into Christianity, an outward sign of an inward act). Do the folks at The Gathering Place really think someone is going to do this? I suspect if anyone is baptized, it will be people who are already affiliated with the church. This is an increasingly common practice in Evangelical churches. Members who are already baptized (supposedly a one-time act) get baptized again. Why? Because they want to or it makes them “feel” good. After all, worship is all about “felt needs,” right?

Just when I think I have seen everything . . .

Maybe I will go get baptized on Saturday. Not for salvation, of course, but I sure do love hot dogs (oh wait, the church is likely using $1 hot dogs from Aldi, so maybe not), hot chocolate (with whole milk, please), and candy. Lots of candy. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Two Local Evangelical Churches Clueless About “Black Lives Matter”

Rural northwest Ohio is white, conservative Christian, and Republican. It is home to scores of bigots and racists. While the city of Defiance has a sizeable black (and Hispanic) population, most black Christians attend predominately black churches. Segregation — whether culturally enforced or willingly chosen — is alive and well in Defiance and the larger rural area.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see protests rise-up in Defiance. One group seems to be quite Evangelical in nature. Their protests have more of a praise-and-worship vibe. One local mainline pastor — yes, local pastors still speak to me — told me that he could do without the altar call vibe of this group. Another protest group seems focused on the issue of race, without the Jesus vibe. Why is it that local Evangelicals can’t check Jesus at the door and focus on the issues that matter to local people of color and those of us who presently support their battle against racism and police brutality?

Last Sunday, the latter group held a small protest surrounding the Defiance County courthouse. I stopped to shoot a few photographs. Here’s one of them:

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Two blocks away is The Gathering Place, an Evangelical church pastored by Steve Buttermore. The church is known for putting stupid, inane, downright ignorant clichés on its billboards. Well, stupid, inane, and downright ignorant clichés to people of reason, anyway. I am sure more than a few local Evangelicals love what The Gathering Place puts on their billboards.

Here’s what The Gathering Place had on their billboards:

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Talk about tone deaf and clueless. Imagine how much better this church might have been received if its billboards said Black Lives Matter. I suspect that such a bold statement would have been met within the church with outrage from some whites. So, let’s go with a riff on “All Lives Matter” — a racist trope.

Today, I was in Bryan for a medical procedure. While driving home, I stopped to photograph the front of Dad’s Place — an Evangelical congregation pastored by Christopher Avell. Avell used to comment on this site, hoping to win me back to Jesus. He, of course, failed.

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“Lost Souls Matter.” Yet another riff off of the racist “all lives matter” line.

I have no doubt that pastors Buttermore and Avell will object to my characterizations of their signs. However, we live in moment when what we say and do matters. These churches have, at the very least, shown that they are not paying attention.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Donald Trump, Thieving Democrats, God is Pro-Life, And Jesus is the Cure for Heroin Addiction

Welcome to Defiance County, Ohio, home to Jesus and Donald Trump.

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Evidently, the person who put up this sign has never read the Bible. Had they bothered to do so, they would have found out that God is definitely not pro-life.

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This sign would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that the person who put it up really believes these things. Come Wednesday, I am sure she will be screaming long and hard about how Democrats stole the election from Donald Trump.

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Gamerz is a Defiance, Ohio video game store. While I certainly believe that every American has a right to voice their political views, it is not good for business to do so when you own a small business. Earlier in the day, the owner of Gamerz unfurled and hung two anti-Clinton banners above the sidewalk in the front of his business. He had taken them down by the time I took this photograph. Evidently, the owner is more interested in supporting Trump and disparaging Clinton than he is making money. He shall, most certainly, NOT get any of my money.

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The Gathering Place, Defiance, Ohio is a frequent contributor to my church sign series: On the The Road Looking for God’s True Church. While these signs wisely do not mention Donald Trump, rest assured Gathering Place congregants and pastors support Donald Trump. Those voting for Hillary Clinton will keep their heads down and mouths shut lest they give the appearance of standing against God’s chosen one, Donald, Pussy-gabbing Trump. Turning back our nation is code for “time to evict the Negro from the White House and replace him with an orange and white “baby”  Christian.”

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V.I.P Nails (and gym) in downtown Defiance wants passerbys to know that Jesus is the ONLY answer for those struggling with heroin addiction. In fact, their banner suggests that local police and drug rehab centers should STOP fighting against heroin and instead lead addicts to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Imagine a man jonesing for a heroin fix — willing to do ANYTHING to feed his need. Get saved? Sure, now can I have some s-m-a-c-k? Telling addicts that only Jesus can cure them is not only dangerous, it could also kill them. Yes, Defiance County has a heroin problem, but the solution is NOT a soul-saving experience with Jesus. What happens when the Jesus-fix wears off? Addicts go right back the streets, looking for the only God who can satisfy their needs.

Bruce Gerencser