Anti-LGBTQ Church Out at AISD

After a year of protests, Celebration Church is moving on

Sunday morning protests against Celebration Church have been a weekly event for local activists for a year (Photo provided by Candace Aylor)

Georgetown-based Celebration Church will no longer rent facilities with Austin ISD, a spokesperson for the church confirmed to the Chronicle on Monday, Aug. 19.

The decision comes one year after a protest campaign was mounted against the church, which holds anti-LGBTQ and transphobic views, to pressure them into abandoning use of AISD’s Mueller Performing Arts Center.

“Celebration Church has entered into a purchase agreement to buy a building in the Koenig Lane area,” read a statement issued to us from church spokesperson Christine Haas. “The growth of our congregation has allowed for this opportunity and we are very excited to have a permanent home for our Mueller Campus.”

Over the course of a year, members of the Austin school board repeatedly voiced disapproval of the district renting the PAC to the church, but they insisted their hands were tied legally on the matter. In September of 2018, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote a letter to the district, issuing a stern warning that his office would sue if the church was denied rental of the PAC, or any other district facility.

So the pressure campaign – held weekly by a coalition of local LGBTQ groups and advocates – continued until Sunday, Aug. 18, when Celebration Church pastor Jim Kuykendall told one of the campaign’s lead organizers, Candace Aylor, that his church would not apply for rental of the PAC in future months. Haas told us that the church would not submit applications for any AISD facilities – which are accepted by the district on a month-to-month basis – for their Mueller Campus in the future. In a text message, Aylor told us, the campaign was “successful because it was consistent, persistent, and collaborative.”

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