There were some heated moments at a protest in Riverview as hundreds gathered in front of the Metro City Church to protest controversial programs happening in the church.
The message from the protestors is they’re not giving up the fight until something changes.
A lot of people I spoke with say what is happening in the church isn’t right, and that these controversial programs need to stop and they need to stop now.
“Without a doubt its conversion therapy,” says Seth Tooley. “If you read their posts they are clearly giving the definition of conversion therapy.”
Tooley used to attend the Metro City Church in Riverview. He says what happened to him scared him for life.
“The pastor, the elder and wife, and they started praying and they got louder and they were trying to pray the demon of homosexuality out of me,” Tooley says.
His mother was outraged when she saw what was going on.
“I hear homosexuality demon, the demon of, the demon of and in the name of Jesus Christ and all these things and I screamed, I jerked him by the arm and said let’s go,” Kimberly Tooley says.
Reverend Roland Strongfellow was also among the protestors.
“Using such an antiquated therapy method, such as conversion therapy does nothing to cure people of their gender or sexual orientation,” he says.
The Metro City Church’s lead pastor talked to us about the protest, and the controversial programs at the church, saying the protestors have it all wrong.
“We think it goes both ways,” Pastor Jeremy Schossay says. “So if somebody wants to talk to us freely out of their own volition because they’re unsettled in their heart, they want to move back toward the heterosexual life why wouldn’t we applaud that.”
Pastor Schossau says he wants to have a conversation, but only with the child and parent present.
“So these are kids that we’re dealing with, particularly about this workshop, they are young kids with their parents who want to talk. They have not committed to one direction or the other, they’re saying we need help sorting this out and they’ve come to us wanting to talk about it, what is possibly bad about a conversation,” he says.
Seth Tooley says what’s happening in the church has to stop.
“I don’t want children to go through what I went through I just want people to know God loves them no matter what,” he says.
Folks in the LGBTQIA community says they plan to hold more protests until the programs in the church stop.