An eastern Washington-based anti-abortion group called the Church at Planned Parenthood hosted a worship service Wednesday evening at Spokane’s Planned Parenthood location on East Indiana Avenue.
This comes after lawmakers in several states including Missouri, Georgia and Alabama passed restrictive and controversial abortion laws.
The event started at 5:30 p.m. Organizers said it is not a protest, but rather a “worship service at the gates of Hell.”
The Church at Planned Parenthood describes itself as a “gathering of Christians for the worship of God and corporate prayer for repentance for this nation, repentance for the apathetic church and repentance of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.”
Dozens of people showed up to the service, including State Rep. Matt Shea. Across the street, counter protesters supported a woman's right to choose.
The service started with a couple of musicians singing religious songs.
Ken Peters, the founder and director of the Church at Planned Parenthood, said the group started last summer.
"[Planned Parenthood] is conducting one of the most evil things, we believe, in this nation," Peters said.
Their first service was in October. Peters said they've held a service once a month ever since. He said close to 500 people the last two services.
"We get accused of being extremists and hateful. And we don't want to be that way. Jesus wasn't that way," Peters said.
More than a dozen pastors throughout the state of Washington – including in Spokane and Moses Lake – and one in Iowa support the group, according to the group’s website. Pastor Greg Locke, who is the lead pastor at Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, spoke at Wednesday night’s service.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho posted a message about Locke and the event on Facebook.
“Stand with us today! Pastor Locke is infamous for his online videos, often speaking out against LGBTQ people and Planned Parenthood. Pastor Locke will be speaking in Spokane May 22nd,” Planned Parenthood wrote.
In response to Locke’s visit, the local branch of Planned Parenthood encouraged supporters to donate in his honor.
Locke responded to the post on his Facebook page, writing, “All I did was show up to town and Planned Parenthood is already on the defensive. When you make a living killing babies, you get nervous easy.”
The worship serve and counter-protest came one day after protesters gathered in downtown Spokane on Tuesday evening for a pro-choice support rally following a wave of abortion bans passed in southern U.S. states.
Dozens of people showed up holding signs and showing their support for a woman's right to choose.
"My body, my choice," the crowd shouted. "Abortion is healthcare."
A series of speakers also spoke in front of the crowd.