I sent the following to my congregation after the sentencing hearing for Mr. Adolfo Martinez on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. I have also written an editorial that will be published in the local paper shortly. -Pr. Eileen
This morning our neighbor was sentenced to 16 ½ years for his crimes of third-degree harassment and reckless use of fire, to be served consecutively rather than concurrently. The judge’s decision was based both on the hate crime enhancement as well as our neighbor’s status as a habitual offender. He will likely serve around five to seven years and not be eligible for parole until he has served at least three.
It was a sad morning, as our neighbor restated his hateful feelings about LGBTQIA+ people in the name of God. It was also unsettling for me, personally, as he spoke directly to me during the hearing and as he left the court room.
Thank you to (a dozen names withheld) for being with me in the courtroom as well as the debrief with County Attorney Jessica Reynolds and Assistant County Attorney Tyler Grimm afterward (I’m sorry if I forgot anyone!). I did ask if the church would be able to pay our neighbor’s court fees, but they were waived by the judge so that is unneeded. (A congregant) asked if we might be of support to his three children and their mother so the county will see if contact with them is possible.
While I am glad that the active phase of this crime and this trial are done, I don’t think such a personal and physical encounter with the theology and ideology we work against really comes to an end. The active and agitational work of the Way of Jesus Christ lasts a lifetime, if we are faithful, if we are brave.
And if we are ready.
To that end, in order to be ready for the next big witness of our church—Christmas Eve worship at 7 p.m. and Christmas Day worship at 9:30 a.m.—I am cancelling our final Advent class tonight in order to get some rest and be with my family.
Thank you all for your strength of character and spiritual fortitude. As someone who never fails to be disappointed by the queer-phobia and sexism of the world, you are a marvel of transformative grace.
See you for the final Sunday of Advent at 10:30 a.m. Our theme will be love.
Pr. Eileen Gebbie