(Christian Gallery News, Jan 30, 2002) On Sunday morning November 4, 2001, in front of the First Assembly of God Church--a mega-church with over 4000 members in Rockford IL--six people protested and displayed pictures of baby Malachi, a very graphic picture of death and mutilation at the hands of an abortionist, and two banners that read “Why Is The Church Silent?”
As a part of their protest against the silence of churches to the evil in this nation, they preached, using a hand-held megaphone, as people entered and left the services. Associate Pastors, at least one Church board member, a former Mayoral candidate and Alderman, a private investigator, and several lay people confronted them during the course of the protest to try to get these six people, as they said, “to just go away."
But the protestors would not leave because, according to the protestors, they believed they had the right to preach God's word on public sidewalks in the USA.
During the course of the four hours that the protestors were in front of the First Assembly Church, bystanders report that there were requests, demands and “even physical intimidation” used in an attempt to remove the protesters from proximity to the church. But, according to Adrian Horien, the street preachers' organizer and leader, none of the people who confronted the preachers accused them of disrupting the service.
When the preachers continued to preach and thereby demonstrated their refusal to leave the proximity of the 1st Assembly of God Church, the Police were called.
Sergeant Lyle Piper, a 17-year police veteran, was the Rockford, Il policeman who arrived at the scene. According to witnesses, after thirty minutes of conferring with the complainants and--via cellular phone--with city officials, Sergeant Piper walked up to Mr. Horien and cautioned him, “Make sure you stay on the right-of-way.” Sergeant Piper then took a picture of the protestors and walked away.
According to Adrian Horien, the protesters understood the actions of the police officer to mean there was nothing illegal about the presence of the six people and the protest itself, so they continued preaching.
To their surprise on the following Tuesday, November 6, 2001, Adrian Horien was arrested for "Disturbing a religious or lawful meeting." The charges were filed as a result of complaints initiated by the leadership of the First Assembly of God in Rockford, Il.
Adrian Horien stated that all of the six people who were among the party of street preachers are prepared to testify that none of the people who came outside to complain indicated that the preaching outside the church was loud enough to disrupt the service inside the church. It's easy to see why he is prepared to bring that testimony under oath.
Look again at the picture at the top of this article. The picture accurately documents the proximity of the preachers to the 1st Assembly of God Church. Look at the sign held by the street preacher. It appears to be much taller than the Assembly of God church. The sign appears so large when compared to the Church because the people are literally hundreds of feet from the door to the sanctuary. According to Adrien Horien, the preachers occupied that general area throughout the time they were at the Church. He said, "We were at least 200 feet from the building, and there were cars parked between us and the building and there were several trees..."
Adrien Horien said, "We're talking about a very large Church here. They've got a five thousand-seat sanctuary."
That many people means a large sound amplification system is used inside the sanctuary.
Concerning the megaphones used by the street preachers, Adrien Horien stated, "We needed the megaphones to even have a chance to be heard by the people walking toward the building. The whole sky absorbed the sound…The megaphones were self-contained…the kind that coaches use at football practice…They do not create a booming noise like one would suspect…The doors to the sanctuary were closed…This was November 4 in northern Illinois and all the windows were closed… "
Adrian Horien reported, "We have testimony from at least two people in the service that the meeting was not disturbed."
Dave Nelson, a Church board member, told him, “Inside the sanctuary you can only be heard in the near end of the balcony even though what is being said cannot be understood.”
Vicki Johnson, who had been inside during the church service, came out to speak with the protesters. She said, “Nothing could be heard in the sanctuary…There was nothing unusual about the service itself other than Pastor Mayo making a few relevant comments about the protest.”
Adrien Horien stated that he has received a videotape of the Church Service. Mr. Horien said, "I have a video of the service from prayer to prayer [from the opening prayer of the worship service to the ending prayer, Editor]. I viewed the whole thing and there is no sign of any disturbance at all."
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISTURBING APOSTASY AND DISTURBING A MEETING
As ex-President Bill Clinton taught us all, matters of law in this society stand or fall on how words are defined. Since Adrien Horien was arrested for "disturbing" a meeting, the criminal case against him will stand or fall on how the word "disturb" is defined.
There is no doubt that any Christian would be disturbed in their soul to realize that they were being accused by other Christians of having failed to obey the Lord Jesus Christ and to obediently implement the Lord's priorities. But there is a very real difference between that kind of soul disturbance and the "disturbing a meeting" that Adrian Horien and his fellow preachers are accused of. While most everyone would agree that it should be against the law to create a disturbance so great that worship services are impeded, there is a great danger in giving people the power to make it illegal to say things that create a disturbance in the souls of people--especially if those people are unrepentant sinners or reprobates on the slippery slopes of hell. To make a law that prevents preachers from saying things in public that disturb the souls of apostate or reprobate people would, in effect, make it illegal to exercise the gospel ministry in public in the United States of America.
PERSISTENCE IN DISOBEDIENCE IS APOSTASY
Adrian Horien stated that he had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the church leadership to appeal to them to take their complaint out of the courts since the resort to the courts violated Scriptural admonitions contained in Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.
The First Assembly of God in Rockford, Il refused to discuss the matter with Adrian Horien or the other protestors and currently the incident is set to go to trial on March 1, 2002 in the Winnebago County 17th Circuit Court in Rockford, IL.
Adrien Horien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The First Assembly of God Church in Rockford, Il can be reached at First Assembly of God, 5950 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, Il. 61114. 815-877-8000. And they seem to have an online contact form Here, but no published email addresses.
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