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Street Church Again Heads for Parade Stand Off


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Street Church Again Heads for Parade Stand Off 

Stampede Parade Committee Uses Entrapment to Force Street Church from Parade


Calgary’s Stampede Parade Committee, in an underhanded move to strong arm Street Church Ministries out of this year’s parade, has resorted to using entrapment techniques. The Committee has stated that the last year’s distribution of gospel tracts in the parade is the reason they have refused the group’s entry application. But after a year of going back and forth with Street Church discussing the upcoming parade and the ministry’s proposed entry, and over $20,000 in preparation costs on the part of the ministry, the committee, two months prior to the parade, has indicated that Street Church is not welcome to march as they have in the previous four Stampede Parades.

“After all of our work in getting ready and over $20,000 in preparation costs we are shocked at the exclusionary tactics of the committee, especially so late in the game. We have already booked carriages plus seven horses, already purchased new costumes, and have paid for professional props from a movie maker. It is ridiculous that they are putting us into this position after we have shown that we put on a good show. We actually won the best mounted group under twelve horses award in a previous parade. There is no doubt that people like what we have to offer”, stated Artur Pawlowski of Street Church Ministries.

Street Church’s History with the Stampede Parade has been a wild one. From the beginning they faced many challenges to finally get accepted into the parade, being told each year that the name of Jesus offends people and they would therefor either need to march with the name of their church, instead of the name of Jesus, or they would not be permitted to enter the parade at all. Street Church didn’t take this lying down, in 2006 after filing an entry application and being refused entry Street Church marched, with threats of arrests and fines for entering the parade, escorted by over 30 police officers and marshals including squad cars with sirens and flashing lights going.

In 2007, after meeting with high ranking officials, many threats again were uttered against the Ministry, if they entered the march again. Just one hour before the parade began they, due to their persistence, received formal approval to march. Then in 2008, after finally receiving permission without a big battle, the Calgary Stampede parade tried to forbid the ministry from playing any Christian music, with threats of pulling the entry approval, yet Street Church did not back down. The end result was that, once again, they marched and that year receiving the “best mounted group under twelve horses” award for their entry.

2009’s parade entry application process involved meetings with the Parade Committee in which the ministry was told that their Christian music offends people. Artur Pawlowski was told that there was too much “Jesus, JESUS, JESUS!” This time there were no threats. Actually, Artur Pawlowski was bribed with an offer “If you agree with us and will not to play this Christian music, we will give you all the media exposure you need, which will help your ministry. It’s a good deal, you should take it.” Artur Pawlowski refused to opt the Christian music out and so in the end the ministry’s entry was cut off from all media broadcasting (not one single media outlet covered this entry – when the ministry approached the networks went to commercial or studio commentary).

Prior to marching Street Church requested and received permission two separate times from parade officials to distribute tracts to parade attendees. With this in mind their volunteers distributed tracts to people as they walked along with the parade entry. Also, prior to the parade last year there was an incident involving a Parade Committee member that tried to pull the ministry’s entry for lack of compliance, due to having two carriages instead of one, when in fact the Committee had previously approved, in writing, the use of two carriages in their entry.

“The Christian and homeless community is not represented at all in the Calgary Stampede Parade, with the exception of our entry. Those that do walk, represent their own organizations or programs. In stark contrast, other faith communities are well represented in the Parade. I have specific questions that I need answered. Why did they wait almost a full year to let us know their answer, “NO”? Why did they use their personnel to entrap us into believing that we were allowed to distribute gospel tracts, only for them to then use that reason to refuse us entry status in this year’s parade? Why did they allow us to believe that we were in fine standing with them, causing us to prepare and acquire resources and costumes in preparation for the parade? Why is there constant opposition towards Christians wanting to lift the name of Jesus Christ? Finally, who are these people that use a public forum to forward their own religious bigotry against Judeo-Christian values?”, stated Pawlowski.

Street Church has announced that they will once again, not back down from their right to enter the Stamped Parade and to represent the poor and the Christian community in the City of Calgary. They have outlined their plan to take hundreds of homeless people, in a peaceful demonstration to demand their rights, to different strategic locations along the parade route. They are suggesting that some will be in wheelchairs some will be elderly. They have also stated that they are planning to spread the message to as many Christians as they can to participate in the protest.

“It is very unfortunate that the Calgary Stampede Parade Committee is forcing us into this position. We have always tried to present a beautiful and enjoyable entry for the parade spectators and continue to be committed to making our presentation better and better each year. For them to force us to march outside of the parade is unacceptable. We are very determined to stand for our rights and equality in this democratic country and will not allow any bureaucrats or committee to deprive us of those rights. I have been really looking forward to this years parade, and hope that we don’t have to resort to other measures.” stated Artur Pawlowski.

As always, Street Church Ministries, has applied for entry status following all prescribed procedures. They have indicated that they are willing to abide by standard regulations that are applicable to all entry applicants provided that those regulations do not discriminate against them on the basis of religious belief or expression. They have also stated that the only thing that they desire is fair treatment, to have the ability to put on an entertaining presentation and to deliver their message like all other entries are permitted to share theirs.

The footage of last year’s parade can be seen on the Street Church website at http://streetchurch.ca/index.php/20100514582/Evangelism-in-Action-Videos/Videos/Calgary-Stampede-Parade-2009.html.

Also, the correspondence with the Calgary Stampede Parade Committee can be found at http://streetchurch.ca/index.php/20100520585/News/Journals/Calgary-Stampede-Refusal.html.

Artur Pawlowski can be reached for comments at 403-607-4434.

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