In an ongoing drama between a church board and a park board, the Lititz Springs Park Board has challenged a decision made by the Lititz Moravian Congregation Board of Trustees regarding a pride festival at the park this June.
According to a social media post under the headline “Contract in-hand” made the evening of March 14 by the activist group Lititz Chooses Love, the organizers of the pride festival, the Lititz Springs Park Board approved a motion at its board meeting at Lititz Moravian Church to present the group with a contract “for use of the entirety of Lititz Springs Park” for the event scheduled for June 17.
The decision came just days after the church board issued a statement rejecting the use of the park for a pride festival in 2023.
The social media post from Lititz Chooses Love said each park board member said “proudly ‘I choose love’” before the final unanimous vote was taken by the park board, and the contract was “immediately signed.”
A photo posted by Lititz Chooses Love shows the group’s president and founder Parker Webb signing the contract in the church.
“Despite the events of the last two weeks, we feel it’s important to go forward with a message of love,” the social media post said. “To that end, we want to be clear – we love Lititz. That love extends to both Lititz Springs Park and the Moravian Church.”
Lititz Springs Park, which is owned by the Lititz Moravian Church, was originally maintained by the church. However, in 1956, the management of the park was handed over to a board of trustees (the park board).
The March 10 Statement from the Church Board
The Lititz Moravian Congregation Board of Trustees issued a statement March 10 explaining its decision to deny a permit for Lititz Chooses Love to use the park for its festival.
The statement said Lititz Chooses Love “failed in its stewardship of the Park on several fronts” during the June 19, 2022 pride festival, including violating the park’s Declaration of Trust prohibiting “political activities including, without limitation, campaigning, demonstrations, rallies, etc.”
The Lancaster Patriot reported last June that the 2022 pride event included overt political messages, including a speech by Jontel Toland openly discussing reparations to be paid to minority communities.
In the Board of Trustees statement, it stated witnesses at the pride event observed that a pair of presenters “mocked certain Christian beliefs and the Holy Bible.” The statement also said Lititz Chooses Love included an “adult-content drag queen performance” as part of the pride festival without the knowledge of the church leadership.
The statement said trustee president Steve Black was alerted about the adult performance “just hours before the event by a concerned Park Board member,” leading to questions among the church leadership as to whether the event should be allowed to proceed.
“With last-minute notice, limited information, and very little time to poll congregation leadership, the adult-content Drag Queen event was allowed to continue, this in a program billed as a family event suitable for young children,” the Board of Trustees said in its statement.
In a statement issued on March 11 by the Lititz Chooses Love board of directors, it said the 2022 pride event featured a “family friendly drag performance” and that the details of the performance were discussed “at length” between Lititz Chooses Love and the Lititz Springs Park Board.
“Lititz Chooses Love presented photos and other details of the planned performance to assure the Lititz Springs Park Board that the performance was not sexual in nature and was appropriate for all ages,” the group said in its statement. “No evidence of sexual or adult content was provided by the Lititz Moravian Church board.”
A video posted on social media of the drag performer at the 2022 Lititz Pride event shows a stack of one-dollar bills sitting on the stage next to the performer as they lip-sync the song “I Know Where I’ve Been” by Queen Latifah. The drag performer with long purple hair has their legs crossed while sitting and visible nipples protruding from a tight top.
In an article posted March 15 by LNP about the Lititz Springs Park Board meeting, it states that Kellye Martin, the park’s events coordinator, verbally attacked a park board member who she said “recently leaked emails from her to the park board to a conservative news publication, prompting an article.”
“You have shown yourself to be untrustworthy of the title of trustee and have proved that you do not have the best intentions for neither the Lititz Moravian Congregation nor the Lititz Springs Park in mind,” LNP reported that Martin said during the meeting. “… you know who you are and I’m sure that a higher authority than me will have his say on your choices one day.”
The Lancaster Patriot reported last week on two emails sent by Martin to members of the park board, going after the Board of Trustees for its as of then unpublished decision to overrule the park board’s decision to allow the pride event.
After The Lancaster Patriot story was published, LNP wrote its own article about the situation on March 8. In the article, Martin told LNP that she “intends to resign over the matter at the next park board meeting.”
“I wasn’t sure yet if I would resign my position if that happened, but as soon as I got the call, I knew I could no longer continue to be employed in a position that forced me to show baseless discrimination only to certain groups,” Martin told LNP in the article.
There was no indication Martin resigned from her position during the March 14 park board meeting. A picture posted by Lititz Chooses Love on social media shows Webb shaking Martin’s hand after signing the event contract, both smiling.
According to LNP, the Lititz Moravia Congregation Board of Trustees issued a statement following the park board’s issuance of a contract for the pride event, saying that church leadership needed to “review internally what was shared” before releasing any further statements. That statement is not available on the website. However the original March 10 statement was still available.
[This story has been updated.]