On Thursday, we told you about The Gallery Church’s plight. The New York City-based house of worship is claiming it was booted out of a local restaurant following public outcry over sermons about same-sex attraction. The establishment in question, Hill Country Barbecue, a popular Manhattan eatery, has since responded to TheBlaze’s inquiry for more information about its side of the story.
Sarah Abell of the public relations firm Baltz & Company Inc. returned a message we left for Marc Glosserman, founder and CEO of Hill Country Hospitality and the owner of the restaurant. In an e-mailed statement, she claimed that some media outlets have not properly reported about the situation between The Gallery Church and Hill Country.
“We are disappointed that the news of Hill Country’s arrangement with the Gallery Church has been inaccurately reported and would like the opportunity to share below the official statement clarifying the situation with you,” she said, going on to express gratitude, despite the situation, to Pastor Freddy Wyatt, the preacher who leads the house of worship.
From there, Abell provided prepared comments from Glosserman — statements that explain how the relationship initially formed between the two parties, while also detailing where it went wrong. In March, the CEO claims that the church approached Hill Country Barbecue in search of a venue to host weekly services. The company agreed to “an initial trial arrangement,” he contends. But the arrangement didn’t go as planned.
“Our intention was to provide the Church with a place to congregate, which we thought we could do without implying a religious affiliation between our two organizations,” Glosserman continued. “Over the following weeks, based on unanticipated community response, it became clear to us that this would not be possible.”
This explanation seems consistent with the church’s general claims, although it is unclear if the problems resulted strictly from the pastor’s sermon series on same-sex attraction. Previously, Wyatt made this specific claim, noting that the series spawned an outcry that led to the church’s removal from the space.
“This particular sermon series struck a nerve in the neighborhood. There was an enormous amount of backlash,” Pastor Freddy Wyatt previously told conservative commentator Todd Starnes. “We don’t know specifically what that was. The restaurant said if it had only been a couple of phone calls it would have been one thing — but it was more than that.”
Glosserman also explained that Hill Country, upon receiving the unanticipated response, decided to deliberate and give consideration to its options. Rather than continue to allow the Gallery Church to use the space, the company no longer wished to renew the arrangement that had been forged. So, Glosserman gave Wyatt and his congregation two months to find a new location.
The business owner concluded by noting that the restaurant continues to serve and support the community and that a positive relationship is still enjoyed with the Gallery Church. This, of course, is reflective of Wyatt’s own pledge to continue dining at the eatery.
“We are thankful to Pastor Freddy T. Wyatt of Gallery Church for his compassion and understanding,” the statement concludes.
For the church’s side of the story, read our original report. It is unclear which news outlets published stories about the incident that were “inaccurately reported,” but, based on this statement, Wyatt’s general claims do not seem to be rebutted.
That said, there seems to be some angst over the word “eviction.” In a separate statement released by Wyatt, the pastor said that this term has not been used by the church to describe what unfolded. Media outlets, though, have used the word, more generally, to describe Hill Country’s decision. This may be the “inaccurate” reporting that is alleged in the restaurant’s release.
Semantics aside, the debate surrounding the decision is an interesting one. The restaurant, despite disagreement over its choice, has the right to rent to whomever it chooses.
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