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August 12, 2022 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, cornerstone church, news, notify.

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The ReAwaken America Tour has arrived in Batavia.

Among the opening events this morning was a truckers' convoy on Bank Street Road past Cornerstone Church, where the event is being held.

Pastor Paul Doyle, who agreed to host the event after it was canceled at a venue in Rochester, has denied that the tour promotes political extremism.  Critics say event speakers peddle conspiracy theories and racism and that the rhetoric can lead to violence, such as the racially-motivated mass murder at a supermarket in Buffalo in May.

Today's speakers include retired General Michael Flynn, pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of lying to the FBI during investigations into his dealings with foreign nations.  Flynn is scheduled to speak in the morning on "Why now is the time to act without fear and hesitation to save this God-given republic."

Other speakers include Kash Patel on "what is actually going on in America," Doctor Bryan Ardis, on COVID-19 protocols involving remdesivir and midazolam, Christie Hutcherson on why we must protect our borders, Julia Flynn, on a "practical plan to save America," Lance Wallnau, on God's "chaos code," Mel K on the "great reset," Dr. Rashid Buttar on the "COVID-19 chaos," Jim Meehan on fighting back against "medical corruption."

Eric Trump is speaking in the afternoon on "why the Trump family has committed their time, talent and treasure to help save America."

In the early evening, Roger Stone, also pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering, will speak about how Jesus can save America.

As things were getting underway this morning, a number of vendors were already in place offering books, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, paintings, and other wares to the attendees (photos below).

The Batavian will have coverage throughout the weekend of the event at Cornerstone as well as counter-events at other locations in Batavia.

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The stage in the main event tent ready for guests and speakers.

August 8, 2022 - 8:05am

Protesters returned Sunday to Bank Street Road in Batavia, across from Cornerstone Church, to protest a planned event for this coming Friday and Saturday that one spokesperson said is giving fascists a platform.

"A lot of people have come together as a really big, again, like a mishmash of different efforts who are all people who want the same thing -- which is for the RAT (ReAwaken America Tour) to not be in Batavia and for places like churches not to support fascism," said Lauren Berger, a Mount Morris resident.

She said people who have been featured speakers at previous ReAwaken America events have supported fascist ideology and they should not be given a venue to spread that ideology.

She said that was the reason she and other members of Democratic Socialists of America opposed the same event being hosted in Rochester. Pressure on the owner of the Armory there is what led to the event being canceled, and it was then booked in Batavia when Pastor Paul Doyle agreed to host the event at his church.

"We had been telling the armory not to allow this type of event, not to give these people a platform for their hateful ideology," Berger said. "And not to elevate this as a valid viewpoint. And this isn't, this isn't, you know, conservative, low taxation. This is, you know, (saying) LGBTQ plus people and their allies should be executed for treason. They are peddling COVID conspiracies and election denials, and myths about George Soros, and just all kinds of things that are not a valid place for discourse in our society. This is not a valid viewpoint. This is not an equal and opposite side."

While Berger expects some sort of opposition event in Batavia during the Cornerstone event, she said she doubts it will take place on Bank Street Road, across from the giant white tent expected to hold 3,000 people. She cited the limited space along Bank Street Road and safety concerns for counter-protestors being in close proximity to people at the event, whom she views as a threat to engage in violence.

"The thing about fascism is, you know, everybody here resisting fascism would be content if the fascist went home, and just didn't do this event and kind of renounced those views," Berger said. "A fascist won't stop until those standing in their way are dead. So the safety risk is pretty profound."

In prior interviews with The Batavian, Paul Doyle, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, has said the event is to be a Godly one, and not at all what protesters have claimed.

"We are fully behind this event, and resolved on our stance to host the ReAwaken America Tour," Doyle has said. "We see this as a Christian-based assembly addressing the many issues that face American people, offering a biblical perspective."

Tour organizers will be meeting with local law enforcement to discuss "security procedures" either Monday or Tuesday, Doyle said to The Batavian Sunday.

For previous coverage of the ReAwaken America Tour coming to Batavia, click here.

Photos and video by Alecia Kaus / Video News Service. Interview by Alecia Kaus / Video News Service.

News Editor Joanne Beck contributed to this story.

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August 2, 2022 - 9:02pm

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And so it begins to get ugly.

A peaceful debate between Paul Doyle, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, and a group of local Christian leaders has now brought others -- defenders of the ReAwaken America tour --  into the mix with threats and nastiness. One of those Christian leaders had served as spokesperson, but she wants it known that there are several others of the same mindset: they don’t want the ReAwaken America Tour here in Batavia. Or anywhere, for that matter, and especially not in this community.

The group has rallied others together for two protests so far; one outside of Cornerstone on Bank Street Road, and the second one in front of City Hall. People have carried signs and been relatively quiet during these events. The Rev. Roula Alkhouri has spoken on behalf of others but would like their involvement also recognized. The group signed and delivered a letter to Doyle after a meeting this past weekend. It states the leaders’ viewpoint about the tour, its implications, the reasons for concern, and messages that have reportedly been given at other tour events.

Concerns of the group about the tour, according to the letter, include:

1. Inciting Violence and Hatred: The speakers for this event mix militant language with religious imagery while speaking of life-and-death stakes, building an implicit permission structure for audience members to commit political violence in the name of God.

Although few speakers have exposed themselves to prosecution by explicitly calling for violence - strategically leaving themselves room for plausible deniability - they allow their audience to connect the dots by downplaying past political violence committed in God's name, demonizing their political opponents as "Team Satan," and urging supporters to win the battle for God against their fellow Americans.

“Batavia is a small, peaceful community, and it is our moral responsibility to protect it from any potential for violence,” it states.

2. Dividing Americans: The false claims of the speakers of this tour about the 2020 election, the stated vision for only one religion in our nation of religious freedom, the demonization of political opponents, and the continued attacks on our democracy are all attempts to divide Americans, pitting us against us each other.

This kind of division and hate hurts communities and makes us vulnerable to more violence. We do not have to share political views to reject the hateful rhetoric and divisive language of this event and its speakers. As Jesus says, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. Luke 17:11b.”

3. Distorting Christianity with Nationalism: We are so concerned that the name of Jesus is used by this tour's speakers to advance an exclusivist vision of our country as a "Christian nation," even to the point of one prominent speaker urging pastors to preach the Constitution more than we do the Bible. Seeking political power and domination of others is the opposite of what Jesus taught us about loving our neighbors. Christianity is a global religion, and America is a place that cherishes religious freedom for all people.

“We are patriots who love our country, yet we cannot let patriotism become a false idol,” the group states. “We have an American identity and a Christian identity, but they are separate.”

“We prayerfully urge you to cancel hosting this tour to protect our town from having to deal with division, hate, and violence in the name of Christ,” the group states. “Please let us know by Tuesday, August 2 what your intentions are about this event. We are holding you in our prayers as you discern.”

Meanwhile, Alkhouri (pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Batavia) said she has received some “threatening and hateful” phone calls and notes. One such threat was to expose her name nationally.

“These are Christians who are saying that they want to have my name out there in the community and around the country so that I am exposed to lawsuits and to other pressures,” she said. Yet she is not a single defender of this stance, but one of several people. Alkhouri doesn't believe that anyone should be the subject of deragatory comments.

"I think when people try to attack others in the name of defending justice, we all lose," she said. "No one wins when we degrade each other and become fearful or hateful of each other." 

The list of names on the letter includes:

  • Ruth E. Andes, Racial Justice Working Group, Genesee Valley Presbytery, and Byron Presbyterian Church
  • Rev. Joy Bergfalk
  • Rev. David R. Glassmire (Roman Catholic, Pastor Ascension Parish -Batavia)
  • Rev. Bob Kaiser (Presbyterian - Rochester)
  • Deacon Diana Leiker (Episcopalian - Akron)
  • Rev. Dr. Shiela McCullough (Chaplain - Batavia)
  • Rev. James Morasco (American Baptist and United Church of Christ – Batavia)
  • Rev. Laurel Nelson (Presbyterian - Dansville)
  • Rev. Elaine Paige (Chaplain - Batavia)
  • Rev. Jimmy Reader
  • Rev. Chava Redonnet (Chaplain - Rochester)
  • Rev. James Renfrew (Retired minister)
  • Pastor Mark Ross (Presbyterian - Batavia)
  • Pastor Brad Smith and the Attica First Presbyterian Church
  • Rev. Michael Stuart (Presbyterian - Batavia)
  • Jim Tappon (Elder - Irondequoit Presbyterian Church)
  • Lucia VerTseeg (Presbyterian - Rochester)
  • Rev. Evan Wildhack (Presbyterian - Corfu)

85058426-d1e0-4f62-8053-c42a34ca8afc.jpegThe Batavian reached out to Doyle for comments about how the meeting went, and his response to the letter. He said that there are “different political perspectives” on each side and that it was a very cordial conversation. However, he does not agree with the “many fears” their position generates, and his decision has not changed.

“We are fully behind this event and resolved on our stance to host the ReAwaken America Tour.  We see this as a Christian-based assembly addressing the many issues that face American people — offering a biblical perspective,” he said. “We feel compelled to host this event because of the many highly respected Christian speakers that are scheduled over this two-day event.”

As a Batavia native, Batavia High School and Genesee Community College graduate, and former GCC Foundation and Batavia Rotary Club member, he emphasized that “the protesters do not love Batavia more than I do.”

He and church leaders are taking “every precaution” within their power to ensure a safe and secure event, he said, within the immediate proximity of Cornerstone property. There has been another side to the protests, he said.

“Although there have been voices of opposition, the support for the event has been pouring into our church, not only locally, but nationally as well,” he said. “In addition, we have received calls from several local clergy that support us.”

Doyle said there have been talks with local police, including the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, and Cornerstone plans to fully cooperate with law enforcement’s instructions.  He said those local law officials have been connected with top security officials representing the event organizers.

“I feel the event has been over-dramatized. Speakers and attendees are law-abiding and patriotic citizens of the USA,” he said. “Although many issues are occurring in our country that is hotly debated, I have found no reasonable rationale for cancelling this peaceful assembly of Americans exercising their First Amendment (right) of freedom of speech.”

Groups of protesters, including the list above, are trying to plan prayer vigils and at least one more public event in opposition to the tour before it happens on August 12 and 13. Although some have disputed that this is not a political event, many speakers have claimed that Donald Trump won the election and disparage President Joseph Biden and others in the current White House administration. Other speakers discourage COVID vaccines and masks based on unverifiable evidence. To view tour speakers, go here.

Read the full letter here.

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Top photo: Cornerstone Church with new fencing around its property in preparation for the tour. File photo of a protest last month in front of City Hall, above, in Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.

July 24, 2022 - 9:50pm

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A group of protesters displaying signs lined both sides of the road in front of Cornerstone Church Sunday morning on Bank Street Road.

The protesters expressed their distaste for a group of people that are scheduled to speak at the location next month. The ReAwaken America Tour was recently cancelled in Rochester due to pressure on the venue operator from musical acts that canceled their appearances and pressure from the public. For prior coverage, go here for protest and here for the tour.

The tour has since relocated to Batavia at Cornerstone Church in the Town of Batavia. Many Christian leaders issued a message that they were against the event due to the controversial content talked about during the event. That reportedly has included unproven conspiracy theories and racist themes.

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Jim Burns, organizer of the Batavia protest, said the protest group was created with the help of local pastors in the GLOW region, and they are hoping to reach members of the Cornerstone Church as they arrive for their Sunday morning sermon at 10 a.m.

"This group was put together and spearheaded by them," Burns said. "They were very upset and moved emotionally. Some were brought to tears saying they could not believe a church was hosting (the ReAwaken tour) to come in and talk like they are going to talk."

Burns says he wanted to be involved and organize the protest because of the division he is seeing along with the devaluation of human life.

"It's unbelievable to me, the people that are coming to this church in a couple weeks are sowing division. We need to stop this as a country," he said. "The Democratic party does it, the Republican party does it. It's time for it to stop, and as American citizens, we need to stop it. This is all about division and the hatred that comes with it. We are all Americans and shouldn't be enemies to ourselves."

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Burns said he has no political or religious affiliations. He believes people have the right to assemble.

"Most people here are not going to like my view with that. We have the right to be here and the church has the right to host them, we all have the right to be heard, and that's the way America should work; it's not one side or the other saying the other side can't do that," he said. "I am out here protesting the people who are coming and their beliefs, absolutely one hundred percent. I am absolutely a nobody. I am just a citizen. Everybody here has their own personal reasons to be here, some are affiliated with other groups. They are here because of the racism; they are here because they think Batavia is a better town and shouldn't be hosting this."

Many protesters had their own reasons to show up to the Sunday protest.

"We've been here holding our signs spreading a message of love and tolerance. It's very encouraging because there are a lot of people in Batavia who don't stand for these terrible fascist, racist ideas, it's really good to see," said protester Logan Cole.

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The protest started about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday as members of the Cornerstone Church were arriving for a 10 a.m. sermon. The church had security on hand and did have to intervene after a woman from the Cornerstone property crossed the road and attempted to pull a sign down from another woman’s face and take her photo. A member of the church with a radio responded across the street and collected the woman, telling her to not engage with protesters. She was escorted back onto the church property, which was roped off with yellow tape. The protest ended at about 10:15 a.m.

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Top photo: Protesters displaying messages to members of Cornerstone Church as they arrived for service Sunday morning. A short time later a church member tried to pull down one woman's sign and take her photo (on the left). Otherwise, it was a fairly uneventful, peaceful protest for about 45 minutes at the Bank Street Road, Batavia church. Church security escorted the member back to the church as protesters continued on with their mission. Photos by Alecia Kaus.

October 6, 2021 - 9:54am
posted by Joanne Beck in batavia, cornerstone church, Mario Murillo, news, religion.

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If you happened to drive along Bank Street Road near Saile Drive Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night, you may have gotten stuck in a line of traffic or behind motorists trying to find a parking spot.

There was no sporting match or major concert. Rather, it was something much more divine, Pastor Paul Doyle says. Cornerstone Church featured guest speaker Mario Murillo in a big yellow tent on the Bank Street grounds. 

“I think COVID has had a big effect on people, people’s lifestyle has changed. Some people are weary with politics and government, are you vaccinated or unvaccinated, was the election rigged or not rigged,” he said while preparing for Tuesday’s event. “Who do you trust? I think people are running to God for that.”

Doyle, who has been the leader of the church the last four years, had known of Murillo and even offered to loan the big tent for the evangelist’s appearances in California. That was in January when Cornerstone’s congregation was 30 people. Zoom ahead several months later, and the Murillo speaking engagements have “put our church on the map,” Doyle said.  

“He decided to come out here … it just seems that New Yorkers are hungry for an answer,” Doyle said. “He is simply addressing issues that affect Christians.”

Murillo had his doubts that the small city of Batavia would attract many people, and was going to be content with a half-filled tent, Doyle said. Both men were shocked at the turnout of more than 3,000 attendees per night on Sunday and Monday, and they sat in the rain to boot.

People were from different locales — at least 16 states represented — and denominations, including those from Amish and Mennonite communities, Doyle said.  Although Murillo has expressed opinions about the White House administration and his beliefs regarding who is president, this event is not about that, Doyle said. 

“People are not being converted to a political party,” he said. “(Murillo) is talking about Jesus Christ. Families are bringing their loved ones. There’s a fresh set of people each night.”

Visitors from Kentucky and North Carolina to Florida and beyond not only traveled to attend but also to pitch in and help. Doyle said a core of 400 volunteers have been functioning as ushers, parking attendants, security, and first-aid responders. Two smaller tents have been added to the main one to accommodate overflow, and people are also welcome to plant a seat elsewhere on the property, he said. 

As for any potential COVID concerns, masks were provided for those who wanted one, he said, even though it’s an outdoor event and people can distance themselves if they want. 

Doyle cited a scripture from the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 7:14) that serves as a guide for the church: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

He believes society is yearning for that healing. 

“I promote the love of Jesus,” he said. “The only thing that interests me is the new people coming to the Lord.” 

There is one more gathering tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 8020 Bank Street Rd., Batavia. Admission is free. 

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August 28, 2010 - 11:56am

The Batavia Business and Professional Women's Club meets on the first Thursday of every month from Sept. through June. This month, the group will meet at the Cornerstone Church, at 2583 Main Road (at the corner of Slusser Road) in East Pembroke.

A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:15. The event is scheduled to last until 9 p.m. 

Dinner costs $10 and includes sliced ham, scallop potatoes, apple sauce, tossed salad, a vegetable, rolls and butter, dessert, coffee and tea.

The event program is "Touching Lives One on One, a training program for home visitations to shut-ins," by Mary Alexander.

For more information or to RSVP by Aug. 30, please call Carol Rowcliffee at 343-3457 or Doris Naegely at 343-2755.

August 27, 2010 - 8:25pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, business, east pembroke, cornerstone church.
Event Date and Time: 
September 2, 2010 - 5:30pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia Business and Professional Women's Club meets on the first Thursday of every month from September through June. This month, the group will meet at the Cornerstone Church, at 2583 Main Road (at the corner of Slusser Road) in East Pembroke.

A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:15. The event is scheduled to last until 9 p.m. 

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