Eureka Springs Church Barred from Easter Parade

EUREKA SPRINGS-- An annual Eureka Springs Easter parade, surrounded by controversy this weekend, after one church congregation was asked not to participate.

The Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade has been growing in Eureka Springs over the past three years. This year the Eureka Springs First Methodist Church applied to be in the parade, wanting to carry a sign saying "Jesus loves all." The church was denied, and now they're asking why.

Eureka Springs Celebrate Jesus Easter parade made its way through downtown Saturday afternoon, but one church was left on the sidelines.

First United Methodist of Eureka Springs applied to be in the parade, and was initially accepted. One week before the parade, however, they were told they were no longer welcome. Church member Suzie Bell believes it's because of their stance on the LGBT community.

"They wanted to know what our banner was going to say, and it said "Jesus loves all. They had decided that they did not want us in the parade, and that we weren't welcome." Bell said.

Bell says the Methodist Church has recently become a "reconciling congregation" meaning they are publicly welcoming of the LGBT community. Bell says that is the reason they weren't allowed in.

"It was based purely on our love and acceptance of the LGBT community." Bell said.

We spoke with the parades director, Laura Nichols. She declined an interview but released a statement to KNWA saying quote.

"This day isn't a day of pointing fingers or playing the blame game. This parade is to honor our Lord and Savior and for praising God for sending His only Son who willingly went to the cross, died and rose on the third day that when we repent of our sins and accept Him. We have the promise of eternal life with the Lord. But more that that He carries us each day that we are on this earth. We are all sinners redeemed by the grace of God. We believe that the Bible is the un compromised Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I would like to tell you about Dr. Bell & Suzie. They came here and started the clinic after graduating from medical school. They raised their family here and sacrificed more than we could ever know. But their greatest gift was when they started ECHO, a free medical clinic for people that could not afford to go to the Doctor. Dr. Bell will be retiring in August, and will be greatly missed. We ask God to bless them as they start a new chapter in their lives.

Regardless of what has been stated in the papers. We do not have anything against the Methodist Church. After all my uncle was a Methodist minister. Nor do we have anything against the homosexual community. When I worked downtown I had homosexual people that I considered my friends and still do..

I am glad you have come to join in Celebrating Jesus. You are welcome here. "This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

End quote.

The statement does not explain why the church was asked not to participate. Bell says this is something she's never experienced before.

"I'm sad, I'm sad that this is something that would divide Christians, It doesn't seem right." Bell said.

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