City officials in Kitchener, Ontario, are being criticized after they ordered the microphone shut off at a Christmas festival when a grandmother began reciting the Christmas story from Matthew 1.
The grandmother was from Trinity Bible Chapel, a congregation that was invited by the city last year and was invited back this year to take part in the Christkindl Market festival in front of City Hall.
The church’s worship team sang several songs. But when the grandmother began reading Matthew 1:18-25 in the German language — “Christkindl” is German for “Christ child” — organizers cut off her mic.
“Not only that, background music was played through the speakers to seemingly drown out her voice and embarrass her,” Trinity Bible Chapel associate pastor Will Schuurman wrote on a church blog. The church performed the same program last year.
It is ironic, the church said, that “about 15 feet from the main stage was a nativity scene set up by the City of Kitchener … pointing to the birth of Christ.”
The city did not set parameters on what could be said, the church added.
The city told CTV that “in its 22 year history” Christkindl “has never had scripture or sermons as part of its scheduled programming.”
The event organizers told church officials that if they continued reading the Bible or preaching from it, “they would continue to turn off our mics,” Schuurman wrote.
“We were completely blind-sided by this,” Schuurman wrote. “Apparently, it is offensive to speak of the birth of Christ at a Christ Child Market next to a nativity display.”
After the grandmother left the stage, the mic was turned on for songs. But when pastor Jacob Reumer took the stage and began speaking, the microphone was turned off. He kept on talking, delivering a gospel message.
“The crowd gathered in close to hear what he had to say and he was able to preach the gospel in the open air and share the message of Christmas with the crowd,” Schuurman wrote.
When Reaume left the stage, the crowd applauded.
Reaume wrote on Twitter, “Saying you can’t read the Christmas story at a Christmas market is like saying you can’t cook ribs at rib fest.”