How the Kent Methodist Church Confronted the Message of Hate
By David E. Dix
In the age of the internet and high speed communications, I find it easy to get confused and maybe some of you are too.
Sometimes when I type in the word “Kent” to search for something, I find that I read a city in Washington State also called Kent. “
Confusion between the two towns recently plagued the Kent, Ohio, United Methodist Church Facebook page, when a group with very un-Christian verbiage expressed anger at the church’s policy of requiring proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus to attend a worship service in person.
This, so far, is not the policy of the Kent United Methodist Church. He strongly recommends immunizations, but does not require you to attend a Sunday worship service in person.
Parties opposing the vaccination policy have expressed their anger on the Kent, Ohio United Methodist Church Facebook page, obviously confusing the two churches, which is easy to do because their website addresses have similarities.
Reverend Dr David Palmer spoke of the confusion in his sermon last Sunday when he said his church’s Facebook page was briefly filled with hate messages from anonymous sources who expressed their anger in the form of threats. One of them wanted the church and its staff to “burn in hell”. One person, who found the church’s phone number, left a voicemail message calling the Good Shepherd “despicable, humble” along with a few other derogatory terms.
Believing that a compassionate response might help the sender if they needed special attention, church staff responded to the attacks in a Christian fashion, but as the messages continued to arrive, Adam Alderson, business manager church, stopped the attacks by temporarily shutting down the ability to leave messages anonymously.
Palmer told his congregation he reached out to his counterpart in Kent, Wash., Who said his church was being bombarded with hate messages about his policies. Palmer chose not to pass on the messages his church had received saying, “It wouldn’t have helped if I had passed the message on to the pastor of the United Methodist Church of Kent in Washington and said, ‘Hey, this message was intended for you â. “
The congregation laughed when he said that, but I know some of us then reflected on the power to harm that the internet and the still unregulated social media allow.
Those who sent the hate messages used Bible references, with one calling the COVID-19 vaccines a âmark of the beast,â a reference to the Book of Revelation.
âI can assure you that COVID-19 vaccines are not the ‘mark of the beast’,â Palmer said. He added that those who get vaccinated are acting on Christian principles in trying not to spread the disease and are contributing to the overloading of our hospitals.
In fact, hospitals in Northeast Ohio are seriously affected by the surge in COVID-19 cases. The number of beds occupied by people with the virus at UH Portage Medical Center a week and a half ago was approaching 50 and among these, hospital administrators said at a meeting I saw attended, 85 to 90 percent were patients who had not yet been vaccinated. . Palmer, whose wife Mavis is a nurse at UH Portage, knew what he was talking about
Palmer alluded to the Apostle Paul’s comments in the book of Colossians urging Christians to get rid of anger, rage, wickedness, slander, and abusive language, and to put on compassion, kindness. , humility, gentleness, patience and, above all, love.
In the heated political conversations about COVID-19 and its mutations, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation seems very strong to me
David E. Dix is ââa former editor of the Record-Courier.