Ministry founder says news story set off bomb about Ground Zero

Ministry founder says news story set off bomb about Ground Zero

Ministry founder says news story set off bomb about Ground Zero

A newspaper reporter and homosexual activists have declared war on the City of Myrtle Beach after it recognized a well-known student ministry, and now the question is if the city will bend a knee to the rainbow mafia and disavow the ministry.

Ground Zero is the name of the student ministry being accused of “homophobia” by The Sun News after a business association, the Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance, recognized the ministry in an August 12 social media post on Facebook and Instagram.

City officials are now under pressure to distance themselves from the ministry because its website states biblical beliefs about marriage and homosexuality. Those views are orthodox teachings of the Church, which most churchgoers have heard in a Sunday morning sermon, but critics are now calling the ministry “homophobic” and demanding action by the city to address Ground Zero’s beliefs and its association with the city.

After renovating an old theatre, the ministry operates in the city-owned building thanks to a $1 annual lease, and it works with the city to sponsor the Dragon Boat Festival, Ground Zero's biggest annual fundraiser. 

“It’s very disheartening,” a homosexual activist complained to The Sun News newspaper, “to have public tax dollars go to something that does not support people for who they are, and does not truly love people for who they are.”

Watching this controversy unfold, Christian apologist Alex McFarland says he is following it closely because he has spoken at Ground Zero before. He says he hopes city leaders refuse to buckle to the demands of a vocal minority.

“I just hope that the City Council of Myrtle Beach, and the leaders of that town,” he tells AFN, “will remember that it was Christianity, not moral relativism, that built and prospered this nation.”

'Never been a kid kicked away'

Ground Zero has been a part of downtown since 2011. That was when ministry founder Scott Payseur signed a $1 annual lease with the city in exchange for renovating the crumbling, city-owned Rivoli Theatre. In an interview with AFN, Payseur says the student-focused ministry has spent approximately $1.8 million to date to renovate the Rivoli, which had sat abandoned by city government for years when he envisioned a future place to share Jesus with young people.

Each week, he says, a Wednesday night service draws about 125 teenagers to the former Rivoli Theatre during the school year.

“There has never been a kid kicked away because of their beliefs,” he says, including LGBT youths.

Payseur estimates a majority of the students --- “as many as 95%” --- who attend the Wednesday night service don’t have biblical beliefs, which is why he says Ground Zero’s mission is evangelism.

Payseur, Scott Payseur

Regarding the ministry’s website and the current problems with city government, Payseur traces the controversy to an unusual source: the news article by Sun reporter Eleanor Nash.

“This story began with that reporter,” he says.

That story by the McClatchy-owned Sun News describes Ground Zero’s views as “homophobic,” which could itself be called religious bigotry. The story also complains the social media post had not been removed “after it was brought to the Downtown Alliance’s attention.”

According to Payseur, he suspects it was the reporter who did that.

The reporter, Nash, interviewed three homosexuals for quotes that are critical of the ministry. She then pressed numerous city officials if they agreed or disagreed with Ground Zero’s biblical views.

Payseur says he refused to be interviewed because he didn’t believe the article would be fair.

The story also mentions a Downtown Alliance meeting set for today, August 24, in which the student ministry and its beliefs were expected to be part of the agenda. Jason Greene, who leads the Alliance, told The Sun News he planned to attend to discuss the website’s views.

Payseur says he was not aware of the meeting until he read it in The Sun News article and he did not attend the meeting today.