As the protests rage on in Minneapolis and the city continues to churn and fulminate, several Christian ministries have descended upon the burned-out city and put boots on the ground at the location where George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and are spreading the message of Jesus far and wide.
Church services are in full swing. Gospel music and modern worship songs blare out from the stage while hands are raised in the crowd. Roving believers find people to pray with and then lay hands on them. There is preaching. There are supposed signs wonders and healings, and now, there are baptisms.
But who is involved? Is this religious syncretism run amok, or is the true gospel being preached? It’s a little bit of both.
At the epicenter of the protests lies the intersection of several movements and personalities, most prominently is Worldwide Outreach for Christ. This church is right across the square from where Floyd was killed and has been pastored by Curtis Farrar for almost 40 years. Being so central and long-serving in the community, it has been at the center of much of the religious activity around the square. It is a predominantly black Pentecostal church and has a daily attendance of between 60-80 people.
The Church does not have a functioning website and no statement of faith appears to be readily available, but what may clue us in to what sort of church he has is that Curtis Farrar doesn’t just go by “pastor” but more frequently by the title of “Apostle Curtis Farrar” and attends “apostolic convocations.” His wife’s name is Pamela, but she goes by “First Lady Pamela Farrar” or “Elect Lady Pamela Ferrar” and frequently preaches the sermons.
The next group is “Circuit Riders.” They are a ministry of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) who focuses on reaching high schools and universities with an emphasis on intense, fully immersed missionary work. A recent post on FB explains their involvement:
A team of four of us from Circuit Riders left for Minneapolis, MN on May 31st with less than a 48 hour notice. We knew we had to respond like Jesus in the midst of this crisis and go to the epicenter of pain and injustice. We had no concrete plans, but just a wild expectation for God to move. On June 1st, we ended up meeting Pastor Curtis Farrar and his wife, who pastor Worldwide Outreach for Christ (This church shared the same intersection with the location where George Floyd was killed). After an accelerated time of friendship, Pastor Curtis gave us the invitation to host Hope Rallies on the street. Our team left, regrouped, and returned to Minneapolis the weekend of June 5th, with additional missionaries from Circuit Riders, YWAM Kona, and Civil Righteousness. In three days we saw God do the impossible. Over a hundred of people responded to the Gospel, hearts were restored, healing broke out, and hope was restored. We believe God wants to change the narrative, and He’s inviting His church to lead from the front lines.
Circuit Riders share the same Statement of faith that YWAM does, as well as accepts missionaries and volunteers from all denominations, including Roman Catholics.
The third-party that has partnered with Worldwide Outreach for Christ and Circuit Riders are known as “Civil Righteousness.” Founded by Jonathan Tremaine (JT) Thomas in 2018, the 501c3 parachurch ministry has as its mission “racial reconciliation and restorative justice through spiritual, cultural and economic renewal” with the tag of “inequity demands a Civil Rights movement, iniquity requires a Civil Righteousness movement.’
They have close ties with the And Campaign, One Race Atlanta, and frequently collaborate with Destiny Church, where JT is (was?) one of the teaching pastors. Destiny is as generally mainstreaming and seeker-friendly as it sounds.
But allow the words of “Civic Righteousness” to describe themselves:
” We pursue Restorative Justice, Spiritual, and Emotional Healing through Prayer and Holy Activism. We address the spiritual dynamics of racism and injustice by connecting biblical resolutions to the issues.”
While “Rights” deals with our externals, “Righteousness” deals with our internals. We believe that Jesus’ justice begins there. Internal transformation leads to external reformation and produces eternal satisfaction. Joel 2:11-13 contains one of the clearest scriptural admonishments for our hearts, minds, and spirits being the starting point dealing with crisis. The biblical pattern of personal repentance, corporate gathering in humility, communal mourning, and corporate prayer is the foundation of civil righteousness.”
And lastly we have a fourth category of individuals consisting of small groups, church prayer teams, out-of-towners, and everyone of every sound or satanic stripe in between, from the reformed street preacher two blocks down, to a guy walking around with a golden crown and sepulcher talking about how he’s a king and a priest.
With the players defined and understood, and knowing this was happening all throughout the day, was the true gospel being preached? Was Christ crucified proclaimed? Was the whole thing one big chaotic messy hodgepodge of theological oddities? Were people saying heretical things? Was a proper, biblical view of baptism being observed and performed? Were sinful, ungodly, hellaciously demonic things being said from some certain pulpits? Were righteous, faithful, and insightful persons preaching? Was the social gospel mixed in with the true gospel to make a damnable gospel?
The answer to all those questions, is “Yes, at times.”