A BAPTIST church in Colorado Springs has been warned to stay away from pupils attending Russell Middle School after its members tried to lure a seventh-grader into a van last week.
The Cornerstone Baptist Church says on its website:
Our ministries are designed to reach out to those in our community who don’t have the ability to come to church by themselves. There are many who have never heard the Gospel of Christ.
So over-zealous church members decided to take the “Good News” to pupils – including, one assumes from its website – that:
Heaven and Hell are literal places reserved for the saved and the unsaved respectively.
As a result of the van incident, the school principal sent students home with a letter to parents asking that they instruct their children not to talk to strangers, and the district has beefed up security around the property.
The letter to parents did not identify the church, and the district – acting on the advice of its attorney – declined to name it. But sources told a local paper, The Gazette, that the offender was Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is about 2.5 miles from the school.
The church has been in trouble in the past for baptising children without parents’ permission.
Students at nearby Keller and Fremont elementary schools also have been approached by church members, and church proselytising has been escalating in recent weeks at Russell. Still, officials were unprepared for what happened last Thursday, district spokeswoman Elaine Naleski said.
We have never had a problem like this before. We are shocked by their actions.
A few weeks ago, officials at the school met with the church’s leader to complain about members coming on school property to preach the Bible, Naleski said. But rather than stop, church members started proselytising from public sidewalks outside the school.
The school will seek a no-trespassing order if church members resume harassing children on school property, Naleski said. But it will be up to parents to take legal action against the church if their children are approached in public areas outside the school.
Assistant pastor Ford Glover said that Cornerstone would have no comment.
The church website’s “doctrinal statement” states:
We believe the church is a local, separated body of believers who are sent forth into the world to get people saved, baptized, and added to the church.