I moved to northeastern Kentucky nearly four years ago to serve as a local church pastor. My family and I saw firsthand the natural beauty and rich history of Boyd County and the cities that lay within her boundaries. Watching with encouragement, governmental leaders usher in a renaissance of new ideas to redevelop and revitalize downtown while reimagining dilapidated properties and turning them into glorious gems for generations to enjoy, all while adapting to the constraints of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. 

With any progress comes progressive pushback that tries to hinder or even stop development because it is not the “right type” of development that some neighbors would like. Recently a small but vocal group of faith leaders gathered to design a plan to form a group to stand up against the rise of a “liberal element” that is undergirding the progress taking place within the City of Ashland and Boyd County as a whole. They have cited horse racing and locally owned businesses supporting the LGBTQ+ community through events as the culprits captivating a recessive sin nature taking hold in society.

As a devout Christian in the holiness tradition, this smacks of pharisaical attempts to address society's ills by forcing people and businesses to believe one way or the other without developing or fostering relationships with people that do not act, look or think as they do.

Being classically educated in theologically rich environments, I have learned that one should not cast a stone at a group of people or businesses because my personal religious beliefs do not line up with theirs. Instead, I've learned to engage people through conversations, a listening ear, and at times respectful disagreement, but not protest, or promulgate division through actions that harm others, drawing one to ask: where is Jesus? Is he with a group of Christian protest plotters or sinners?

There is no question that the spiritual health of our churches and community are challenged, but instead of plotting, Christians should pray. Instead of dividing the community and trying to drive away business, shouldn't the Christian community be praying for our governmental leaders, supporting local businesses that we value, and restoring health in our local churches? Christ's example was for us to pray for divine wisdom, a loving heart and actions that speak louder than words. 

Rev. Dr. Desmond Barrett


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