KITCHENER, Ontario, December 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― Organizers of an annual Christmas market turned off the microphone as a Christian grandmother began to read the story of Christ’s birth.
The reading was part of a presentation given by the Trinity Bible Chapel during the opening festivities for Kitchener’s annual German Christkindl (“Christ Child”) Market on Thursday night. After a choir sang traditional carols and a hymn, the woman stepped forward to read the Christmas story from the German translation of the Gospel according to Luke. She was interrupted when people associated with the festival turned off her microphone and played elevator music to drown out her voice.
City staff then told the woman that there could be no scripture reading during the festival. When Pastor Jacob Reaume began to tell festival-goers about the Christ Child and why He came into the world, his microphone was turned off, too.
Reaume told LifeSiteNews that this was a surprise to him and his group because last year they had given the same performance, with singing, dancing, a short reading from the Bible and a three-minute introduction to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the city representatives told them that they had done a great job.
“The city was happy to have us back,” Reaume said.
In an interview with Mike Farwell of Kitchener’s CKGL 570 AM Radio, the pastor said they had no idea the city would object to a Bible reading.
“We went in thinking that we’d do the exact same thing that we did last year and assumed we were following the city’s lead,” Reaume explained.
“After all, Christkindl is German for “Christ Child,” and we figured there’d be nothing wrong with reading the Christmas story at the Christ Child Market, and even the Christmas story in German, seeing this is a German Christmas celebration … ”
Kitchener, called Berlin until the advent of the First World War, has always had a sizable German-Canadian community. Reaume, who grew up in nearby Guelph, told LifeSiteNews that the city is “a pretty warm community.” He praised the Christkindl Market’s female MC as “sweet.”
But Reaume also observed that there were three or four city workers who seemed “really mean-spirited” and grinned at him after silencing the microphone. He didn’t recognize them from last year’s festival
In Farwell’s radio interview with Reaume, he asked the pastor if he felt that the Christkindl Market was an “appropriate setting” to “share (his) message.”
“If Christmas time is not the appropriate setting to share the message of Jesus Christ and offer His love and forgiveness and mercy to the world, I don’t know what is,” Reaume replied.
When the apparently Christian Farwell — who joked about the length of his own priest’s sermons — suggested this “message” wasn’t appropriate for the public square, the pastor said this would be a “major shame” if true.
“If the Christmas message is not welcomed in the public square at Christmas time during a Christmas festival … I mean, that would certainly be a major shame and a disappointment if that’s where we’ve come to as a society,” Reaume said.
“But if that’s the case, and if the Christmas message is not welcome at City Hall and in the public square, then I guess that’s the way it is, Mike, but we walked into this under the impression we were simply following the city’s lead,” he continued.
“If City Hall says you can’t talk about Jesus Christ in between your songs, I would think that would be a major, major blight upon our city.”
The evangelical pastor told LifeSiteNews that he and the Trinity Bible Chapel had received a lot of support, particularly on its Facebook page.
“The sense I’m getting from this is that it’s a release for the community, to know that we’re going to preach the real meaning of Christmas even if we have the rug pulled out from under us,” he said.
As for those who want to keep Christ out of Christmas, “the spirit of Herod is always with us,” Reaume observed, but added, “I don’t understand the motives of these people.”
Reaume is adamant that his group received no indication that Scriptural readings were banned from this year’s Christkindl Market. He also said that if the organizers wanted to ban talking between songs or sets, they’d have to be objective and consistent about it. He pointed out that it is normal during performances or presentations for someone to chat with the audience about what they are seeing or hearing.
Meanwhile, the Christmas carols the Trinity Bible Chapel performed all told the Christmas story in song: they sang “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Come O Come Emmanuel;” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing;” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “We Three Kings.” As a final hymn, they sang “All Glory Be to Christ.”
According to CTV News, the city said they were unaware that the Bible reading and Christian remarks were part of the performance last year, which is why they neglected to tell the Trinity Bible Chapel group it was not permitted this year.
In a statement to media, the City of Kitchener said, “In its 22-year history, Christkindl Market has never had scripture or sermons as part of its scheduled programming, and there is no venue for this within the four-day event.”