A northern California pastor has begrudgingly stepped down as members threatened to leave after he posted a church sign that called transgender celebrity Caitlyn “Bruce” Jenner a man and stated that “homosexuality is still a sin.”
Justin Hoke, who formerly served as pastor at Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in the town of Weed in Siskiyou County, took to Facebook to announce that he is leaving the church. His departure comes following protest and vandalism in response to his church sign.
On New Year’s Eve, Hoke used his personal Facebook page to post a picture of the sign outside of the church that read: “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still sin. The culture may change but the Bible does not.”
The sign incited a pro-LGBT “Love Rally” demonstration Sunday morning before Hoke’s weekly service on Jan. 6.
Additionally, the church sign and the message was vandalized last week. The organizers of the rally say they don’t know of anyone involved in the vandalism and condemned the act.
“As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church,” Hoke wrote in a Saturday Facebook post.
In the post, Hoke felt the need to “communicate what has taken place.”
He stated that he was informed by an elder that the elder could no longer follow his lead as pastor of the church. Hoke added that he was also told by “essentially all but one couple in membership” that they would leave the church if Hoke did not step down.
“Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave,” Hoke wrote. “Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities. Therefore it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for [TBPC and the Hoke family] to part ways.”
On Monday, Hoke updated the Facebook post to explain that he did not want to leave the church.
“I did not quit, and I was willing to stay,” Hoke asserted.
The Christian Post reached out to TBPC (also known as Lake Shastina Community Bible Church) for comment on Hoke’s departure. A response is pending.
In an interview with The Siskiyou Daily News, Hoke said his intention with the sign was to express his thought that the Bible doesn’t change even though the culture may.
“If you see a burning building, there are only two reasons not to warn those inside: if you think the danger isn’t too great, or if you don’t love those inside,” Hoke stated.
He told the Daily Wire that he was inspired to create the sign after reading about a customer at a store who "threw a fit because a clerk had accidentally referred to him with the masculine gender [pronoun]."
Another “Love Rally” demonstration was held during Sunday’s service with yet another planned for next Sunday.
Organizers of the protest told NBC 5 that their goal was not to get Hoke fired.
“I don’t want to be responsible for someone losing their job. The point in this protest is to show love for the LGBTQ community and other members of the community as well,” organizer Charolette Kalayjian said.
Hoke told the television news outlet that the protests were not the reason for his departure.
“There was a fear we would lose what little congregation that we had if I remained,” Hoke explained.