Village of Pugwash distances itself from church conference

Some people in Pugwash say there’s been a case of mistaken identity and they’re being dragged into a religious controversy that has nothing to do with them.

Bill Martin of the Pugwash Village Commission says it began with a strange email that came in to the village.

“On the low side, he thought that it was indicating that Pugwash was a backward-thinking community,” Martin said.

Far from it. Pugwash is home to Thinkers Lodge, the birthplace of the Nobel Prize-winning conference.

Then people started hearing about a conference next month at Camp Pugwash, a venue owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 10 kilometres outside the village.

Martin said once they found out what it was about and nothing to do with the village, they responded to the individual’s e-mail.

“You can’t link us to somebody whose name just happens to use the word Pugwash, when they’re not even in the village,” Martin said.

Two speakers from a group called coming out ministries have been invited to the camp next month. Their website talks about being freed from the chains of homosexuality.

That prompted a petition to be started in Halifax, and a confusing connection many in the village didn’t like.

“It was looking as if the village was supporting an event that was not supporting the LGBTQ community, and that is very much not the case,” said Lisa Betts.

Many people here say the community is open and welcoming. The pride flag has been flying every summer, for several years.

“A person has the right to be whoever they are, and I accept people and whoever they are,” said resident Pauline Dowe.

Stan Jensen, the national media representative of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ontario, says the church does not promote conversion therapy. He told CTV News that what’s happening at the camp will just be two people, telling their life story.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.





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