Organizers of a citywide Easter Celebration in Stockton, California have canceled this year’s event due to controversy over the inclusion of an LGBT-affirming church.
Earlier this year, Easter Sunrise Service organizer and Police Chaplain Jim Reid invited the Rev. Terri Miller of the Valley Ministries Church to participate in the 17th annual event, a popular gathering among Christians in the city.
However, once Reid learned that Miller’s church serves a predominately LGBT-identifying congregation, he reneged on his invitation, telling Miller in an email sent from his official city office that “we are diametrically different in our view of scripture when it comes to homosexuality.”
The email led first to Reid’s suspension then quickly led to his dismissal from the police department. Miller was re-invited to the event and agreed to come, planning to attend with her wife.
Things changed this past Tuesday, however, when the Stockton Leadership Foundation called off the event entirely, stating that the “transforming message will be overshadowed as a result of the well-publicized clergy invitations,” essentially saying that the inclusion of an LGBT church would cause such a media frenzy that the message of Easter would be lost in the shuffle.
Reid, who even after being fired from the police department retained his position on the Foundation board, told The Stockton Record he felt that including Miller and her congregation “would defeat the purpose of having [the sunrise service]. I didn’t think it would bring glory and honor to God. I was in favor of canceling.”
Miller responded to Reid’s statements, saying “It’s just disheartening to me that here these folks claim to be Christians…and are squandering this opportunity because of some perceived differences instead of uniting under the banner of what this day is supposed to mean.”