Lititz Moravian Congregation officials say they need more time to review what happened at Tuesday’s Lititz Springs Park board meeting before weighing in on the board’s decision to host a June Pride event at the park.
“With the conversation and information shared Tuesday night, we feel it is important for all of our church leadership to review internally what was shared and said before providing any additional statements,” the Lititz Moravian Congregation Joint Board said in a statement Thursday.
The joint board comprises the board of elders and board of trustees. Elders are responsible for spiritual life and outreach, while trustees are responsible for physical assets and most financial affairs.
“Lititz Moravian Congregation is a loving and welcoming congregation,” the statement said. “We pledge patience, wisdom and compassion as we consider Tuesday night’s meeting and ask for grace, time and healing as we move forward.”
Though the park board had already approved renting the park to Lititz Chooses Love for its June 17 event, the board reaffirmed its approval Tuesday – effectively rejecting a call by church trustees that the park board deny renting the park for this year’s Pride festival.
The trustees, who said Lititz Chooses Love could instead rent a park pavilion for a private gathering, issued a statement last Friday citing “political activism,” “vulgarity and dress issues of presenters” at last year’s event, as well as safety concerns, as their reason.
The park board and Lititz Chooses Love denied those claims. The 2022 festival, which drew nearly 1,000 people, was briefly interrupted by about a dozen protesters who distributed literature mocking Pride celebrants as “profan(ing) marriage through divorce, homosexuality and adultery.” The group refused to leave the private park until police arrived.
The trustees’ statement also contended that they have ultimate oversight of the park, which is private and owned by the Moravian congregation.
However, park board members pointed to the declaration of trust between the Moravian Congregation Board of Trustees and Lititz Springs Park Inc. in asserting that the park board has oversight of the park. Lititz Springs Park Inc. is the nonprofit established in 1956 to operate the park.
Friday’s statement from the church trustees included quotes from Steve Black and listed Mark Werner as a contact.
Black was the trustee board president and Werner the vice president; their names were no longer on the church website’s list of trustees on Thursday.
Black said he would not speak with a reporter when called on Tuesday; Werner did not respond to attempts to reach him. The church's two pastors also did not respond to a request for comment.
In its statement, the park board on Thursday thanked “the few elders and trustees who outwardly displayed their willingness to hear and learn by attending Tuesday night's meeting. We feel that we have adequately addressed their concerns regarding this particular event and look forward to continued dialogue about other ways that the park board and the church boards can work together for the same goal — the unity and well being of this amazing community."