Homeless advocates are organizing towards Sean Feucht’s impending mission in Skid Row

LOS ANGELES (RNS) – Advocates for residents of the Skid Row neighborhood in LA are against a planned performance by Christian recording artist Sean Feucht in the community, which has one of the highest homelessness rates in the country.

“They have a reputation for basically attracting tons of exposed people wherever they go. If so, we need to protect our church, ”said Pastor Stephen“ Cue ”Jn-Marie, who founded The Row, or The Church Without Walls, in Skid Row.

Feucht’s December 30-31 events at Echo Park and Skid Row, a 54-block neighborhood in downtown, are part of his national Let Us Worship tour protesting COVID-19 restrictions. The two days of public relations will culminate with a New Year’s Eve party from 9 p.m. to midnight in the parking lot of the Higher Vision Church in the city of Valencia, more than 30 miles away.

The tour, which Feucht calls the #letusworship movement, has been criticized by health officials and faith leaders alike for attracting thousands of viewers and worshipers, many of whom ignored social distancing guidelines and health instructions that require masks.

RELATED: Christian musician Sean Feucht hosted defiant protest in Seattle despite the concert ban

The New Years Eve celebration was originally planned for the nearby Azusa Street Mission, where a revival meeting was held in the early 20th century, recognized as the origin of the modern Pentecostal movement. It was unclear why the event was postponed. Representatives from Feucht, Azusa Street and Higher Vision Church were not reached for comment.

Other events in Seattle; Nashville, Tennessee; Washington, DC; and other US cities also met resistance from local authorities and scattered counter-protests.

Moist ‘New Years Eve events come as Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 cases and deaths spike and available hospital beds dwindle. If disease transmission stays the same, the county health department is planning 700 to 1,400 new hospital patients daily through New Year’s Eve, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Jn-Marie said he posted a Facebook message to Feucht on Monday (December 21) to express concern about his plans to visit Skid Row. Feucht hadn’t answered by Tuesday morning, said Jn-Marie.

“Skid Row is one of the most vulnerable communities in the nation,” said Jn-Marie. “It is also a community with housed people and gatekeepers.”

If Feucht doesn’t respond, Jn-Marie, he, and other supporters plan to rally to prevent exposed individuals from entering Skid Row.

Since the pandemic began, Jn-Marie said, homeless advocates have taken the necessary precautions to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in the community.

Jn-Marie said they had set up hand-washing stations, provided hygiene products, and doubled the promotion of mask-wearing. While the community welcomes food, clothing, toiletries, and other supplies, Jn-Marie says Skid Row doesn’t need “people coming for a photo op.”

“We worked to protect the community,” he said.

The Row has been holding Friday services on Skid Row for more than 10 years. That changed with COVID-19. While The Row continued to help feed the residents, it no longer gathered for Friday services. Services have since resumed, with guidelines for social distancing and the wearing of masks.

For Jn-Marie, there is a “church malformation” among those who believe they are being persecuted by health orders to limit the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 300,000 people in the United States to date.

When people protest with masks that could potentially save lives, “we know that is not God,” said Jn-Marie.

Jn-Marie described the people involved in the efforts against Feucht as “deacons for justice”, a reference to an armed self-defense organization to protect civil rights activists.

They will not be armed with weapons but “with the Spirit of God,” said Jn-Marie.

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