Dueling Church sign in Ferndale sparks controversy over LGBTQ inclusion | Lost Coast Outpost
The town of Ferndale has been buzzing this week – both on social media and on the quaint streets of ‘Cream City’ – with discussions of the message currently displayed on the light panel outside the church. Evangelical Lutheran Saint Mark.
“Hurt by LGBTQ culture? The sign of St. Mark reads. “Healing here.”
The sign baffled some and angered others.
“I would like to know what the idea behind this was,” a local resident said on Facebook. “How hurt? “
“I am absolutely disgusted by this,” commented another. “No love, no healing or no growth was ever built on the foundation of hate.”
The photographs of the Saint Mark’s sign have received dozens of shares and hundreds of comments on social media, and reactions have also erupted across the city.
A local business, Mind’s Eye Coffee Lounge, drew a rainbow flag in chalk outside its Main Street front door and uploaded a photo with the message “Love Will Always Win.”
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Shaw Avenue, a few blocks from St. Mark’s, adorned its own sign with an apparent response to their nearby place of worship. “We welcome everyone! It reads. “Jesus said that everything is precious in his eyes. Love is always the answer.
On Wednesday, Our Savior posted a photo of this post on his Facebook page with the caption: “Do we need to say more!
Although Saint Mark and Our Savior are Lutheran churches, they are aligned with two separate sub-denominations that have opposing views on same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues.
Our Savior is from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), a main Protestant denomination whose assembly in 2009 voted to allow gays and lesbians who are engaged in monogamous relationships to be ordained priests. Since then, ELCA has appointed a gay bishop and ordained a trans pastor, and its clergy are licensed to perform same-sex marriages.
St. Mark’s, meanwhile, is owned by the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod (LCMS), a “traditional” denomination that categorically condemns “homosexual lusts and acts” as profoundly “unnatural.” Members of the LCMS church believe they are called to help these poor souls “overcome the temptations that beset them.”
“[H]homosexual behavior is against the Word and will of God, and the LCMS seeks to serve those who struggle with homosexual inclinations, ”the church said on its website.
the Outpost left voicemail messages for Saint Mark’s and Our Savior on Friday morning. We also emailed St. Mark’s and within an hour we received the following response from Reverend Tyrell Bramwell:
We have received your phone call and email regarding the sign. What questions would you like to ask?
the reverend bramwell
We sent out a list of questions about the meaning of the message and the community’s response, but by the time that message was posted, almost five hours later, Rev. Bramwell had not responded.
The community of Ferndale has been rocked by a number of public controversies over the years. In 2007, a newly arrived psychotherapist was subjected to homophobic interrogations at city meetings, and the Ferndale Planning Commission denied him a residence permit – apparently because of his sexual orientation.
In 2011, Ferndale High football players and fans were accused of throwing racist epithets against an opposing team, which resulted in the Wildcats team being placed on probation for one season.
Last year, a Ferndale couple received overwhelmingly positive responses to an anti-racism exhibit in their front yard, but in December, a billboard just outside of town read “Welcome to Ferndale; Hate has no place here ”was vandalized to send the opposite message.
The vast majority of responses in this latest controversy rejected the message outside of St. Mark’s in favor of love and inclusion.
A commentator on the Ferndale community page on Facebook suggested responding to the St. Mark’s sign by displaying rainbow flags around town. “Beat hate with LOVE! She insisted. Sure enough, a short drive through Ferndale on Friday revealed a number of flying rainbow flags.
Caroline Titus, editor and publisher of Ferndale Company, said attitudes in town have changed for the better in the decade and a half since the big fight over a gay psychotherapist.
“I am so proud of our community and so relieved that I don’t have to be the one who writes op-eds and receives threats,” she told the Outpost by phone Friday afternoon.
A pride celebration that was due to start at noon on Saturday underwent a last-minute change of venue. Participants are now invited to meet in front of St. Mark’s before crossing the city.
“Come in your loudest rainbow outfit and with flags,” one Instagram ad read. “Love is love.”