BELEN — Local pastors are gathering in what they are calling a nonpolitical protest Sunday evening to call people of faith back to the church and God and out of the fear they may be experiencing during the pandemic.
The protest was initially reported on by an Albuquerque news station on Sept. 3 with an interview with First Assembly of God Pastor Greg MacPherson.
A written statement about the event on the church’s Facebook page following the coverage, noted “It is unfortunate and disappointing that the reporter misrepresented the Faith Over Fear protest.”
When asked for an interview, MacPherson directed the News-Bulletin to a video on the website faithoverfearamerica.com, which featured him and other local pastors in a talk-show style discussion about the event.
In the video, Pastor Richard Garcia, with Christian Family Church of God in Belen said, to him, the definition of “faith” is an acrostic — Forsaking All, I Trust Him.
“When we talk about faith, it’s not faith in science, not faith in data or faith in community or anything else, but faith in Jesus Christ,” Garcia said. “I believe there is fear but the fear people are dealing with is the spirit of fear; it’s invisible but we know it’s effecting a lot of people.”
MacPherson said people are making the decision to come out of fear.
“They need to start trusting God and not let the media dictate what they are going to do,” MacPherson said in the video.
The biggest fear is of the virus, Garcia said, which is a legitimate fear but it has people “captured and afraid of going to church. Part of this protest is to call the body back to church, back to fellowship.”
MacPherson encouraged people to “step out of fear” and stand up in their faith in Christ.
“If we don’t stand up and say it’s time for the church to air our voice, I think it will be silenced. I think we will have a time when we won’t be able to,” he said. “We need to let people know they are able to come back to church. People are afraid to share their faith on social media because they are being destroyed.”
Calling the event a Christian rally open to all, MacPherson invited any pastors not already involved to come to the protest on Sunday, which will feature speeches from different pastors and worship songs. He said they are expecting hundreds of participants, and police and security will be present to monitor the event.
Belen Police Chief James Harris said the organizers of the protest did get a permit from the city of Belen for the event and the department will have two officers assigned to the protest.
“It looks like this is going to be a pretty peaceful situation. I don’t foresee any issues,” Harris said. “The only reason we are going to have anybody there is in the event an outside entity comes in and decides to create issues.”
The Faith Over Fear protest will be at 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 13, near the Heart of Belen gazebo, Main Street and Becker Avenue.
Belen churches listed as participants on the Faith Over Fear America website are First Baptist Church of Belen, Our Lady of Belen, Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley, Abundant Life Christian Center, First Assembly of God, Christian Faith Chapel, Holy Ghost and Fire and Christian Family Church of God, and Family Christian Center in Socorro.
Also listed is Belen-based All About GOD Ministries.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.