Nearly 100 people gathered Monday to protest a new North Avenue church they claim is practicing the occult.
Ministers and pastors from more than a dozen city Hispanic churches gathered on the steps of El Buen Pastor Christian Church on Hancock Avenue, along with dozens of churchgoers, to denounce the Pare de Sufrir Igreja Universal Church.
The Rev. Moses Mercedes of Prince of Peace Church, the president of the Association of Hispanic Ministers, claimed the new congregation is attempting to lure parishioners of other churches through witchcraft.
“It’s a danger to all our spirituality,” he said.
Pare de Sufrir opened about a month ago in a large blue church building at North Avenue and Remer Street.
On Monday, the large sanctuary appeared devoid of the traditional religious decorations found in other churches.
A man, who identified himself as the pastor, refused to give his name or comment on the allegations.
Mercedes said he had not attended any services at the North Avenue church, but said he has spoken to several people who have been solicited to join the new church.
Mercedes claimed that services at Pare de Sufrir mix traditional church rites with occult practices, employing witchcraft and the use of amulets.
“They take advantage of people who are in need of healing and create an open hole for demonic possession,” he said.
“We proclaim and work toward unity in the Christian community, but we do not tolerate the mixture of biblical doctrine with occult practices,” said the Rev. Simon Castillo, a member of the association of ministers.