FILM fans lured by signs promising a free movie and a sausage sizzle in local parks have instead been confronted by evangelical flicks followed by a sermon and recruitment ceremony.
In recent weeks the film offerings have popped up at Gibbney Reserve in Maylands, McKenzie Reserve in Embleton, and Mills Avenue Park in Bayswater. There’s no named organisation, just a mobile number.
Turns out the preachy picture shows are being organised by the Potter’s House, an international Pentecostal church which has had its US incarnation criticised for being overly-controlling of members (including some American ex-members saying their pastor banned them from watching movies).
Several suburban Facebook groups and local Reddit boards have seen posters drop by in recent weeks either wondering what the films are all about or warning would-be movie-goers what they’re in for.
About 98 per cent of commenters disapproved of the church’s tactics, with some furious over the vague signage.
One Maylands local who attended the Gibbney Reserve filming told the Voice: “I think they should have to be transparent about it”.
The movie-goer, who asked not to be named, said: “What further annoyed me: At Gibbney Reserve the sign was set up right near where the drop-off is at Maylands Peninsular Primary School. They put up a sign saying ‘free movie and sausage sizzle’ while times are tough and a lot of people are looking for free entertainment, and surely lots of parents with young children are seeing that and thinking that looks like a good activity”.
The attendee says the movie was about down-and-out sinners being born again and the preaching featured in-depth tales about Jesus’ crucifixion. The details wouldn’t be too out of place in a passion play but was “just a bit graphic” for a free movie event in a public park.
We asked Potter’s House about their tactics but didn’t hear back before deadline.
However a tutorial video posted by the church in 2015 outlines the tactics used for their “outreach” events.
“When choosing a park we look for an area that’s got a kid’s playground, that’s often important, because it brings the parents in,” the presenter advised.
Bayswater CEO Jeremy Edwards said the church had approval for the events under the City’s community events guidelines.
Using the spaces is free and there’s little red tape for events under 100 people, but the Gibbney Reserve movie on February 25 sizzled a little too much.
The council said it attracted more people than Potters House had applied for; subsequently permits were revoked for a further seven events.
by DAVID BELL