Press Release Regarding Lititz Chooses Love and Lititz Springs Park
4-7-2023 Press Release
We, the leaders of the Lititz Moravian Congregation, endeavor to represent a welcoming and affirming community of faith. We acknowledge that our actions in compelling the Park Board to deny the use of the Lititz Springs Park for a silent candlelight vigil on Transgender Day of Remembrance in November 2022 and in attempting to deny the use of the Lititz Springs Park for the Lititz Chooses Love Pride Event scheduled for June 2023, hurt our family members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the members and friends of our congregation, and the larger Lititz community. The decision by the Board of Trustees of our congregation was based on the Joint Board’s understanding of our Declaration of Trust of the Lititz Springs Park, Inc. and failed to take into account the current Operating Agreement with Lititz Springs Park, Inc. giving them the exclusive right to manage the operations of the park. We confess our role in the inattentive communication breakdowns that led us to release the March 10, 2023 statement and which led us to our current point in time. New information and insights about park events, specifically the Lititz Chooses Love Event to be held this June, have guided us to a new understanding.
As leaders of this historic church, we confess that we have hurt many people in the greater Lititz community. We acknowledge that our actions have caused many to mistrust our commitment to welcoming all. We humbly ask that you forgive us, receive our requests for conversation, and allow us to serve you as the hands and feet of Christ.
We acknowledge that, in attempting to enforce the restriction in the Agreement of Trust against political activities in the Park, we incorrectly and hurtfully charged Lititz Choose Love’s 2022 Pride Event with violations. We have been instructed by Attorney Richard E. Santee, Jr. that “Permitting gatherings and promoting a social justice agenda does not constitute political activity, as it has traditionally been interpreted by the IRS…” We acknowledge that Lititz Chooses Love is a registered 501(c)3 organization and as such, is permitted by law to speak on social justice issues without being considered to have engaged in political activity so long as they do not promote a particular candidate or party. Attorney Santee also reviewed the governing documents and confirmed for the Board of Trustees that the Lititz Springs Park Board has sole decision-making power over the day-to-day workings of Lititz Springs Park.
We admit to giving undeserved credence to information and accusations we received without taking care to fully verify those accusations, as we issued our March 10, 2023 statement. We hereby retract all such accusations, together with any and all defamatory statements published with them. As leaders of our congregation and members of this community, we have no wish for our words to accuse or abuse any person or organization, including Lititz Chooses Love, and we will strive to treat such topics with greater care as we move forward. After a conversation with Lititz Chooses Love, we better understand that not all Drag performances are adult-oriented, and as an artform they are not inherently sexual. We confess our ignorance and lack of understanding of the daily harassment, abuse, and threat experienced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and repent of our part in providing fodder for those who bully, harass, and threaten them. We thank Lititz Chooses Love for the time, energy, patience, and emotional labor freely given already as we journey to new insights. We will seek to become better educated and aware so that we may lead our congregation toward becoming a truly open, safe, and welcoming church.
Our leadership has entered into dialogue with the Park Board and with organizations such as Lititz Chooses Love to assure that all events held in the Park align with the charge in the original Agreement of Trust that the Park provide a “park and place of attractive and healthful resort and recreation” for the community. We appreciate the willingness of all parties to discuss in advance plans for scheduled events in order to assure compliance with established policies. We look forward to a renewed and active relationship with the Lititz Springs Park Board, one in which the Park Board maintains and operates our beautiful park in furtherance of its legacy, free from outside interference, and congregational leadership provides resources and partnership in accordance with the Operating Agreement.
The Moravian Church Northern Province is open and affirming. The denomination’s mission statement includes these words: “No matter who you are or how you identify, you are embraced and affirmed by God’s expansive love.” Lititz Moravian Congregation is proud to be part of a denomination that welcomes all and commits to working toward achieving that goal.
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Cathy Gelatka Apr 7, 2023
Wow! Well said. Thank you for this affirming statement. The Park Board is happy and very willing to continue a working partnership with the Moravian Church.
Wendy Schmid Apr 7, 2023
My heart is singing to read this letter. May you and all followers of Christ realize this love you are showing us.
linda Peacock Apr 7, 2023
Thank you for being gracious and admitting when you made a mistake. I appreciate it you're posting. Thank you.
Brenda Seibert Apr 7, 2023
Thank you. Loving others is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, with tolerance, knowledge, and love, we can become better friends, neighbors, and family members.
Christine Miller Apr 7, 2023
Thank you for your honest and thoughtful press release. As a member of the lgbtqia+ community, I prayed for your church that reconciliation (after appropriate apology) would be your final stance.
Andro Hollander Apr 7, 2023
Very good! It's heartwarming to see the local church take steps towards understanding that the LGBT are equally deserving of space on this earth. I hope for a day that all churches will stop with the preaching of hatred, and will instead have the wisdom to embrace a wider congregation of Christ's followers.
Tami Howse Apr 7, 2023
Now THIS is how you do it. I am humbled to read this beautiful letter. Thank you so much for your statement of inclusion, willingness to dialogue, and open repentance. As a community member, I forgive the Moravian Church.
Wendy Lance Apr 7, 2023
I thought the actions that you took were very hurtful to our youth and community. However, I really appreciate this statement and look forward to seeing how you support inclusivity going toward. Action will be more important than words!
Johnathan Stevens Apr 7, 2023
So I am sitting here crying tears of gratitude because this is probably the second time in my life I've heard a Christian church issue a genuine and heartfelt statement that recognizes the worth and dignity of all the people in God's creation. The only thing I've ever wanted is just to love people and be loved in return, I've been waiting about 20 years to hear such a statement.
The 2022 event was quite possibly one of the nicest I've ever been to. I was there for several hours, the park was beautiful, the weather was beautiful and it made my heart happy to observe people of all ages and walks of life smiling and able to be themselves. Considering 1,000 people attended I think the event went remarkably well. The vast majority of people I saw were very respectful of each other and considerate of children being present at the event. Of particular note was a parent who said, "This is the first time I've seen my child lift their head up and smile"
I'm not sure if you have any idea how important this work is, reassuring all people that they are a part of God's creation worthy of love and respect. I know we may disagree on some things, by allowing space for a conversation to take place you are saving lives - that's the bottom line.
Bill Mercer Apr 7, 2023
“ We have been instructed by Attorney Richard E. Santee, Jr”… in other words someone exposed your “love thy neighbor” hypocrisy and forced you to do the right thing
Doug Balmer Apr 7, 2023
Thank you for showing this community, our leaders, and our youth what a meaningful apology looks like. In the words of the sage, Daniel Tiger, “Saying I’m sorry is the first step. Then how can I help?”
Gerald Phillips Apr 8, 2023
Thank you! Thank you for publicly admitting you made a mistake. Thank you for promising to do better and most of all thank you for giving me and other members of LGBTQ+ community a reason to believe that all organized religion isn't closing their doors to our Heavenly Father's children. I prey your words are sincere because our community was incredibly hurt by your actions and this is a step to healing.