Pastor Justin Hoke of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, has lost his job following both community and alleged internal backlash over the language used in his most recent church sign.
Two and a half weeks after posting a controversial message on a sign in front of the Church in Lake Shastina, Pastor Hoke announced that he and the church have parted ways.
Hoke’s explanation of what led to his decision to step down from his position as pastor was candid and succinct. His Facebook post read:
“After much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is best to briefly communicate what has taken place. 1. I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC. 2. I was informed that essentially all but one couple in the membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.”
“3. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave. 4. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities. Therefore it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for us (TBPC and the Hoke family) to part ways.”
Hoke designed a sign that read: “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not.”
“The ultimate purpose was to say that while the culture may change, the Bible does not,” Hoke said. “The culture is now demanding that we call ‘good’ what the Bible calls evil.”
Meanwhile, Pastor Hoke defended his sign amid all the controversy – but has since lost his power in the church after he was forced to resign.
“We believe that Jesus commands all Christians to let their light shine,” the pastor said according to Yahoo Lifestyle. “We also believe that salvation is only for sinners. Jesus said he came to call sinners, not the righteous. If we give in to cultural demands to stop calling sin’ sin,’ then we are robbing people of the opportunity to hear the truth.”
The message immediately sparked protests among members of the community. A number of demonstrators gathered outside the church for the first-ever “Shastina Love Rally,” which condemned the sign and praised the LGBT community.
“We’ve really had to refine our message to be one strictly of love and support for anyone who feels like they are the target of the sign,” Amelia Mallory, one of three women who organized the rally, said. “Debating religion is unproductive, for one, and we also don’t want anyone to feel like we are against Christianity as a whole. People are welcome to their own beliefs but can’t be surprised if people take action against such a public display.”
During the second protest last Sunday, Kalayjian said she went up to an unnamed church elder with the donation who “said he appreciates that we would do that for them, but it was not necessary. At that time Justin (Hoke) was let go.”
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