Church of Wells/YMBBA Ministries

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12/14/2014 9:20 pm  #1

Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

Preachers turn up to 'wreck' show of support | photos, video 
By OLIVIA LAMBERT  Nov. 10, 2014

A PEACEFUL event to show support for the gay community developed into a volatile incident which was broken up by police. A verbal fight broke out in the small town of Yackandandah yesterday after three men began preaching against homosexuality.

The preachers were of the same group as the man who harassed Buddha Shop owner Andy Stevens last week. They yelled to the hundreds of people, including children, that sinners were going to “burn in hell” and made references to the Bible. Gary Hayward, Mr Stevens’ partner, was visibly distressed by the turn of events.

The community originally joined in the town’s main street to create love hearts with their hands to show their desire for equality and acceptance for the pair.  And despite the preachers “wrecking” the event, the community united with their hearts and left the intruders to stand alone.

“After the abuse last week this day was to show our peace and kindness,” Mr Hayward said. “I have never experienced hatred like this before. “It’s called terrorism.”

Many people in support of Mr Stevens and Mr Hayward yelled at the preachers to “get a life”, with Albury councillor Ross Jackson even shouting for them to stop. God’s Squad bikies came to back Mr Hayward and Mr Stevens and stood up to the preachers and told them they gave Christians a bad name.

Albury’s Father Peter MacLeod-Miller also attended the event, where preachers accused him of “religious hypocrisy” and being a “false prophet”. Father MacLeod-Miller said they were “fundamentalists” who were disturbing the peace of people. “They don’t represent Christianity and it suffers in the same way as Islam,” he said. “We don’t want Christianity to be branded by the nuts who wave the flag, or in this case the person using the Bible.”

Preacher David Sester, from a non-denominational group of born-again Christians near Wollongong, said they were in Yackandandah as part of a mission trip to spread the gospel. “This is what the scripture says,” Mr Sester said of his preaching. “It’s not my judgment, we’re not here to judge, but speak the words of Christ, who is the judge. “The Bible says you shall speak my words to them whether they listen or not.”

The preaching lasted for more than an hour before police managed to move the angry crowd along.


12/14/2014 9:48 pm  #2

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

'Religious zealots' abuse gay man Andy Stevens in Yackandandah shop

November 3, 2014
Blair Thomson

A grandmother has stepped in to support a gay man being abused and harassed by two "religious zealots" in his own shop in Yackandandah. Andy Stevens, who owns the Buddha Shop with Gary Hayward, was approached by two men yesterday who began filming Mr Stevens and called him a fornicator, adulterer and "the lowest of the low". The duo also made references to the Bible, The Border Mail reports.

Grandmother Bronwyn English, who stepped in to stop the incident, said it appeared the footage was being taken to upload online.

"How dare they come into a business and start spouting off, whatever their beliefs are," she said. "It has nothing to do with them. "I imagine it will be splashed all over the internet on some religious channel, but I really don't care." Ms English said the men appeared to have deliberately targeted the business and planned the incident.  "It was very distasteful," she said. "We have a number of gay couples out here. They're just part of our community. "We're mature enough to accept people as themselves."

The men appeared to be from out of town, Ms English said, and a car registration was given to police. Officers were investigating the matter yesterday.

Mr Hayward said the incident was "unacceptable". "We are about compassion, peace and kindness," he said. "We should not have to put up with these kinds of attacks on our business and on us. "I think the attack went on for 20 minutes to half an hour." 

Mr Hayward said the company's Facebook page had been littered with abusive messages, including that "Buddha and Satan go hand in hand" and that both men were going to hell. 

"To have this personal attack is just horrific," he said. "Over the years we've dealt with a lot of hatred, but we don't give hatred back to those people. We feel sorry for them."
Andy Stevens was verbally attacked by Christians in the shop he runs with his partner, Gary Hayward. Photo: Peter Merkesteyn

     Thread Starter

12/16/2014 3:44 am  #3

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

More than words: attack opens up a painful past
By BLAIR THOMSON   Dec. 6, 2014

THE victim of a gay hate attack has opened up about his painful past and the homophobic abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. Gary Hayward and his partner Andy Stevens were targeted by “religious zealots” in their Yackandandah store last month and labelled “the lowest of the low”.  A week after the first attack, a community show of support for the couple was hijacked when three men preached against homosexuality and read out passages from the Bible.

For Mr Hayward the incidents, which included online insults, were more than just words that he could shrug off. They brought back painful memories of receiving “blow after blow to my head and body” after his strict evangelical father discovered he was homosexual.

"At 20 years old he found out I was gay,” he said. “He pulled me out of my bed and kept punching me until his fist broke. “He threw me out like a piece of trash, and at the age of 20 I had to get through all that. “He told people from the church not to talk to me again, so I had to make my own way in life.” 

Mr Hayward said his father had “complete control” of the 40 members of the church, who were forced to stop talking to him. “I lost every friend I had,” he said.

After going seven years without speaking to his father, Mr Hayward felt he needed to get back in contact to resolve the pain he was feeling. “I wanted to let go of the fear and let go of what he did to me,” he said. “I called him, I said ‘I’ve got to forgive you, I don’t want to have this in my heart’. “I want to love you as my father.

“By that time he had been confined to a wheelchair. “He said ‘If I could get out of this wheelchair I would punch your head in’. “It’s a horrible story. I really think he was hoping I would commit suicide over it. There were times I thought it was too difficult to deal with, and I did get counselling.”

It’s been more than 37 years since Mr Hayward was disowned by his father, and he has moved on. He has been in a relationship with Mr Stevens for 14 years and has embraced Buddhism. But while he is more at ease with himself and has taken a “philosophy of compassion and kindness to others”, last month’s homophobic hate incidents brought all the painful memories back.

So much so that he took out an interim personal safety intervention order against one of the preachers, Matthew Bagnall, in court on Wednesday. “What Matthew Bagnall did brought all that up, what I’d been through as a young man 37 years ago,” he said. “I was disowned by my father. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. Why can’t I just live my life in peace, why can’t Andy and I live our lives in peace? Now that we have the order we can hopefully move on.” 

The order prevents Mr Bagnall from coming within 200 metres of their store in Yackandandah or their home. He is also Troll from contacting the couple online, and from approaching or remaining within 10 metres of them.

Mr Bagnall’s lawyer is contesting some of the facts of the complaint and the contested case will resume on January 14.

Mr Hayward said the incidents had left the couple afraid to venture out in public. While the Yackandandah incident played out in public and saw the couple receive hundreds of supportive emails, Mr Hayward said he had largely kept the story of his upbringing under wraps.

“I have shared it with some close friends,” he said. “I think speaking about it will help to heal some of those things from the past. No one has an easy life and everyone has their own difficulties. I think bringing it up and sharing my story will help lots of people. Other kids and people going through tough times will be able to relate to this story. Hopefully it will help them to live a happy life.”
Gary Hayward at home. A recent attack of verbal abuse has brought back memories of an earlier attack by his father. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL


     Thread Starter

12/16/2014 3:54 am  #4

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

Illawarra God squad raid Victorian gay pride event

By ANGELA THOMPSON   Nov. 17, 2014 

Illawarra-based evangelists have shattered the peace at a gay pride event in a small Victorian town after they arrived with bibles in hand and preached - fire-and-brimstone style - against homosexuality.

The community gathering was intended as a peaceful show of support for same-sex couple Gary Hayward and Andy Stevens who were targeted by one of the preachers in an earlier exchange at the men's Yackandandah store, Buddha Shop.

But the event turned heated with the arrival of three preachers, Matthew Bagnall, David Sester and Isaac Daniel, whose social media profiles list their addresses as Kiama, Gerringong and Sydney, respectively.
 Video captured by Fairfax shows residents yelling in unison and honking their car horns to drown out the men's readings.

Ross Jackson, deputy mayor of nearby Albury, confronted Mr Bagnall, whom he said was "very loud, very obnoxious and was being a pest". "What he was preaching was basically hate towards homosexuals," Mr Jackson said. "I don't care who you are, and what you do; to do that in a public forum is unacceptable."

It is unknown why the men travelled to the little tourist town, population 1854, though it hosts an annual pride event and its Anglican minister, Father Peter MacLeod-Miller, is an open supporter of same-sex marriage.

Videos posted online show Mr Sester, formerly of Honolulu, Hawaii, has favoured school bus stops in America and crowds of nighttime city-goers for his past alfresco preaching sessions. In one video, tension mounts as Mr Sester is repeatedly abused outside a busy sidewalk cafe where diners sit smoking hookah pipes. The camera loses him briefly, then finds him looking flustered, confirming he has just been punched in the face.

The Mercury's efforts to reach Mr Sester and Mr Bagnall via social media were unsuccessful. Mr Sester told the Albury Border Mail the men belonged to a "non-denominational group of born-again Christians".

In a post to his Facebook page, Mr Sester praises his wife and offers insight into how he thinks a marriage should work. "Katherine always happily submitted to my headship, always follows my leadership, cooks delicious healthy foods every day, keeps our home looking beautiful, prudently keeps care of all things I entrust her with, and diligently studies Gods [sic] word to know how God created her to be a wife and mother," he writes. "Never once has she raised her voice at me, or fought with me. She never complains or murmurs and I am always thrilled coming home to her joyful, loving face."

Fr MacLeod-Miller attended the community gathering in Yackandandah and was among those who condemned the visiting evangelists. "They were using the Bible in a very primitive way," Fr Macleod-Miller said. "They were saying that people with a variety of lifestyles were not to be tolerated. It was blind hatred really."

Fr Macleod-Miller said he once opposed same-sex marriage, but changed his stance "as a result of meeting people and thinking more deeply upon it. I've known many people whose lives have been ruined through prejudice."

Note: It was not a "gay pride" event. The news story has that wrong.

     Thread Starter

12/16/2014 4:04 am  #5

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

I was calm at satanic shop

By BLAIR THOMSON  Nov. 8, 2014

A MAN at the centre of gay hate accusations has defended his actions at a Yackandandah shop last weekend. Matthew Bagnall has emerged as the man who approached homosexual store owner Andy Stevens in his High Street business on Sunday.

Bronwyn English, who stepped in to help Mr Stevens, said Mr Bagnall had been quoting phrases from the bible labelling him a fornicator, adulterer and “the lowest of the low”. She described the incident, which was filmed, as “very distasteful”, and Mr Stevens said he and partner Gary Hayward had received similar hatred online.

But Mr Bagnall said he was forced to walk through a “tunnel” of “satanic statues, demonic idols alongside witchcraft and occult information” outside the store.He said he was heading to a coffee store at the time and described the site as “vile wickedness”. “I was also appalled at the fact that the confessing Christians in Yackandandah had allowed such sin to be exalted in their streets,” he said.

Mr Bagnall admitted to entering the store, but said he “wanted to know when and how this satanic store began to operate in this town”. “I approached the store owner within his store to very calmly and respectfully — with all loving kindness — ask him why and when he opened a store as this,” he said. “He would not answer me directly and so I said to him that God does not approve of such a store as this.”

Mr Bagnall, an Australian citizen, was part of a group accused of telling children they would go to hell during a parade in Texas in April. He did not say if he knew Mr Stevens was gay in a statement sent to The Border Mail. But he said he had quoted phrases from the bible denouncing fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals and sodomites. “I shared this burden for about 20 minutes,” Mr Bagnall said. “During this time I had three to five local people threaten me with violence, including a woman who actually threatened to kill me if I didn’t stop and leave Yackandandah.”

He said a friend had filmed the incident amid fears for his safety. Mr Bagnall said the footage was not taken with the intention to post it online, but said he could not say what would happen to it. Mr Hayward said he believed Mr Bagnall was not facing charges, which Mr Bagnall confirmed.

     Thread Starter

12/16/2014 4:18 am  #6

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

Kiama evangelist ordered to stay away from same-sex couple


Kiama evangelist Matthew Bagnall has appeared in court after an altercation involving a same-sex couple in a small Victorian town.
Adjourned: Matthew Bagnall in Yackandandah.

Police applied for a personal safety intervention order on behalf of the couple, Andy Stevens and Gary Hayward, following alleged confrontations involving Mr Bagnall inside the men's Yackandandah store and at an ensuing community event on November 9. No criminal charges have been laid as a result of the November activity.

In Wodonga Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, Mr Bagnall's lawyer contested the facts of the complaint, which were not made public. The matter was likely to become the subject of a contested hearing, the court indicated.

Under an interim order granted by Magistrate Ian Watkins, Mr Bagnall cannot stalk the men or go within 200 metres of their workplace or home. He is also prohibited from putting the men on the internet, or from getting a third party to breach the order on his behalf.

An intervention order is a kind of apprehended violence order under the Victorian court system. The matter has been adjourned until January 14.

     Thread Starter

12/16/2014 2:09 pm  #7

Re: Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia

Texas, USA violence. These men intentionally provoke it.

     Thread Starter

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