Community Divided By Dueling Rallies In Bartlesville
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Oklahomans for Equality hosted a "Pride Picnic" in Bartlesville Saturday.
At the same time, some churches in the area held a competing picnic called the "HUMiLITY Event" on the other side of town.
It was a relaxed family-friendly event for the hundreds who attended the Pride Picnic in Johnstone Park. There were plenty of outdoor games, music, and food.
"Our goal is just to come together and have a good time," Rev. Kelley Becker, the senior minister of Disciples Christian Church, said.
Becker is also a board member with Oklahomans for Equality in Bartlesville. Becker said there's people of all backgrounds attending to have a good time.
"This is an opportunity for us to gather to celebrate inclusion and diversity and love," Becker said.
Across town at the same exact time as the Pride Picnic, a few hundred gathered for their own picnic in response, called HUMiLITY. The slogan: "love is not proud."
"We have a dozen churches, university, several parachurch organizations gathered here today," Thomas Lowery said. Lowery is with Cavalry Chapel in Bartlesville.
Speakers at HUMiLITY included Laura Perry -- who said she is formerly transgender -- and author Stephen Black, who said he's been "set free" from homosexuality.
"We need to come and humble ourselves before the Lord," Lowery said.
Lowery says it's a biblical response to the movement -- and theirs is about 'loss.'
"Each person who comes to Christ has to lose something, they lose a part of themselves, and the pride movement is about adding to self. The HUMiLITY movement is about decreasing self," Lowery said.
Back over at the Pride Picnic, Rev. Becker said the community will never be whole unless everyone feels safe and like they have a place to belong.
"When I first heard about it my reaction was sadness because our goal is to bring people together, so it kind of made me sad that there was an event being planned to make it purposely so that we're not together," Becker said.