Easter Services Ambush

Friendly folk from California

The first week of the fundraising campaign flew by quickly. The grand total so far is $585 with major contributions from my friends, especially related via our extended hockey families. Not too shabby, but we need to pick up the pace in order to achieve the goal of $5000.

Our simple handout.

Continuing from the previous post on leafletting: for those that are just joining on this post and don’t feel like reading the previous one, my sister and I made leaflets and distributed them on cars at Easter eve church service at the Patrick Gym on the campus of UVM.  The Essex Alliance Church management was rather displeased with our intentions but we decided to see whether our fellow Christians, who are already drowning in fundraising requests left and right, are able to recognize good charity from great charity. My sister and I decided to join the Easter Sunday services for which Essex Alliance Church rented UVM’s Patrick Gym, and for which they advertised like a toothpaste company. We made some fliers to handout, I got me a clean shaven face, and went begging fundraising.

Being apprehended for trying to raise money for disadvantaged children

It turned out to be quite a comical adventure, as big time helpers Austin DeLonge and Sister Anna can vouch for.  We anticipated a bit of a debacle, so we decided bringing a camera would be a wise maneuver.  The distributing started at around 10:15am, 15 minutes after the Easter ceremonies began. We learned from the previous day’s experience that we needed to cover all of the cars just before the service was to end (11:30) , so that we didn’t give the church staff enough time to remove the fliers.

Just as before, we covered the garage from the lowest to the highest level.  By the time we reached the top level the church staff spotted and confronted us.  Pastor Wakefield and his two henchmen, Joe and Tom, were particularly displeased with my perseverance.  Of course they told me the previous day that I was not to do any leafletting at this location and time.  I checked out the university policies and local ordinances, and leafletting is generally a gray area.  However, my purpose was non-commercial, for a great cause, and not endangering anyone (except for the leafletters courtesy of Church intimidation).  I discovered that in these instances, there’s really no need for any permission, especially since the garage is either a public location or belonging to the University, of which I am a student.

Apprehending the leafletter

Once they heard that, and I handed them a printed page from the university policies stating that it’s legal to leaflet, they stopped what they were doing.  While I had been explaining all of this to Pastor Larry, Joe and Tom had been furiously removing leaflets from under the windshield wipers of cars on the top level.  Larry acknowledged that I did have a point, and so he took Joe and Tom back into the Patrick Gym to formulate a counter-plan, not before I suggested that Joe and Tom put the fliers back onto the cars (they obliged ;) ).

At this point, it seemed as though that was the end of it.  Austin, Anna, Alyson, and I walked back towards the car, Austin to his iron horse.  As we drove on the road squeaking between the gym and the parking lot, we suddenly saw approximately TEN church staff members jogging in front of our car toward the top level of the garage.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought the president was coming into town, this sort of security detail was secret service-esque.

I stomped on the brake, whipped a ricky (right turn for the lay man), and rolled down my manual window.  I poked my head out and asked the Pastor what was going on, rhetorical question, they were taking down my fliers.  Essex Alliance leadership united against a local literature distributor, bizarre.  Pastor Larry said he asked the UVM Police if he was allowed to remove my fliers, this was neither confirmed nor unconfirmed,  but either way I would have to cleverly counter their rallying cries.

"We can't have this"

I handed the camera to my young photographers and sent them to the grassy knoll.  I decided that I would replace the fliers that had been removed by Operation Flier Freedom.  Pastor Wakefield sent two of his finest henchmen to follow me and immediately remove any new fliers that I placed down.  I found this quite amusing.  I decided to evade the two pursuants by squeezing in between a cement wall and a car, a gap through which neither henchman could fit.  Then I proceeded to place a flier on my own car.  I specifically told one of the henchman not to touch the flier on my car because at this point, it was my private property.  To my dismay, he removed the flier despite my humble request.

Figuring it would be futile to outrun ten evangelists, their fervor, and their cars, I decided to personally talk to every person I ran into.  What a novel idea!  Turns out this was the strategy that I had the most success with.

Joe the Dentist and I

I met a doctor from California, parents who had a daughter in at UVM Med School, and Joe the dentist. Joe the dentist was also Joe the henchman, but we stood together and became friends. He originally joined me, posted next to me in order to ensure that I wasn’t trying to affiliate myself with the church in any way. Ironically, having an official church member standing next to me made it seem as though I was affiliated with the Essex Alliance Church. Turns out Joe had been on several aid missions himself, mostly in Central and South America. Eventually he felt out of place standing next to me like an English Bobby; Joe wished me best of luck and moved to help out with the cleanup I presume.

Spreading my gospel

In the end, the leafletting was a success. Even though the Essex Alliance Church managed to remove most of the fliers I distributed, I made some friends out of strangers, spread the word of my cause, and at least demonstrated my effort.  Hopefully this will motivate others to help out.

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1 Response to “Easter Services Ambush”

  • what a nice guerilla action out there Mike! I am surprised what kind of obstacles you have to face… I wouldn’t expect this kind of behavior from them. Good luck.

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