Church Service Met with Protests

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DREHER TOWNSHIP, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV)  The sanctuary church near Newfoundland hosted a ‘couples blessing service’ — and encouraged participants to bring “a-r 15” rifles.  With the gun debate going on right now — this ceremony was met with protesters.  Eyewitness News Reporter Eric Deabill has our story,

The women came in white gowns. Most of the men wore crowns.

As hundreds of people came together Wednesday at the Sanctuary Church for a couple’s blessing ceremony — more than 50 of them also brought their AR-15’s.

The rifles symbolize the “Rod of Iron” in the biblical Book of Revelation.

Participants say the service was moving.

“You could feel the love and the peacefulness of the ceremony. It’s not a violent thing” said Ram Montanaro, a Church Member from Maine.

Outside the church, protesters couldn’t’ believe guns were being welcomed after recent mass shootings.

“I thought it was a joke but then here it is real!” said Kate Flaherty of Tobyhanna

Protesters were concerned that many of the participants were from outside the region.

Meagan O’Kelly and her friends carried unusual signs about pickles to protest.

 “I wanted to think of something equally as absurd as bringing guns into religion and guns for God — so I thought pickles for peace sounds just as absurd,” said Meagan O’Kelly, of Greentown.

While some church members came out to explain their beliefs to the protesters — the two sides remained far apart on ideals in most instances.

“I think this is sac religious. I think that taking into a House of God, a weapon of war, a weapon of mass destruction” added Katherine Dalton of Tafton.

Caught in the middle, people like John Hinds and others who live directly across the street from the church.

They had a front row seat to the controversy.

“Who am I to say that it’s wrong? What they do, you know? They’ve got a lot of followers” added John Hinds of Dreher Township.

“I want a peaceful home.” said Carol Ward of Dreher Township, ” I don’t want all this chaos, but tomorrow, it will be over”  she added.

All of the guns were inspected and zip tied before being brought into the church here.
Outside there was a very visible state police presence along Route 191.
Troopers say there were no problems.

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