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Friday, September 22, 2023

Awaken Church and Its Pastor’s Online Presence

Letters to the Editor submitted to The Coronado Times are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, editors or writers of this publication. Submit letters to [email protected].

Updated 06/05/2023

Submitted by Travis Cleveland

I confess that I didn’t know much about Awaken church when I first heard they’re interested in coming to Coronado. I will admit that my opposition was initially because I am not religious and I have heard that this church in particular crosses into politics quite frequently, which is something I don’t believe churches should do.

But when I read Mike Yeager’s letter to the editor in the Coronado Times this morning, “Introduction and Intentions of Awaken Church” he seemed like he was quite uncomfortable. Mr. Yeager’s response to the Times’ criticism of Awaken is that quotes were taken out of context by people who wanted to make the church look bad, and to pivot to a message of love. He was essentially changing the subject, saying that the Times didn’t get the whole story.

So in the interest of giving Mr. Yeager and Awaken Lead Pastor Jurgen Matthesius the benefit of the doubt, I searched out Mr. Matthesius’ presence online so I could make my own decisions. I elected NOT to do so for Mr. Yeager because he lives in Coronado and is my neighbor. This letter is not regarding him as a resident or a private citizen. It’s regarding his church and its public actions.

Citizens of Coronado, looking at Jurgen Matthesius’ online presence, it’s actually worse than you thought. Not a single attempt to blunt his disgusting views has been made. The bigotry, xenophobia and hate is out there for the world to see. The culture war rhetoric is turned up to 11 with this one. Couple that “us against them” worldview with intense bigotry and we have ourselves a dangerous influence on the politics of our town. If we want to be perceived as more than a bunch of tortilla throwing Neanderthals that think bike lanes are graffiti, we should keep Awaken out.

To understand what I’m talking about, you need to look no further than Matthesius’ publicly available posts on Gettr, a right wing Twitter clone. Going by the handle Jurgmeister, we can see posts where he says that gay people carry the Satanic spirit, calls the UN an Antichrist humanist cult, reposts multiple videos where people videotape themselves harassing immigrants (Jurgmeister is an immigrant too but it’s ok that he came here, I wonder why), posts that support the January 6th insurrection, spouts anti vax rhetoric, even MENTIONS GEORGE SOROS, which is a common anti Semitic dog whistle pretty much anywhere you see it.

Jurgmeister has multiple nonsense posts about the globalist cabal, posts containing debunkable lies about Donald Trump, a post that invokes Benghazi, one that says that homosexuals aren’t normal and that they target children, reposts of vile rhetoric about the gay pride movement being led by pedophiles that entice children with rainbows, posts about 2020 electoral fraud, posts supporting Uganda’s anti-gay laws, posts about how Marxist groups have subverted government, posts about how if LeBron James wasn’t playing basketball he’d be on the block drinking malt liquor, posts that suggest publicly hanging politicians, posts lying about the left wanting to abolish constitutional amendments, posts suggesting boycotting stores during pride month, and perhaps the crown jewel: a graphic that claims there were 19,293 black on white “interracial rapes” in some undisclosed time period, but 0 white on black ones.

I feel like we used to call people like this crazy. I’m not sure how society got to the point where they can lead a church.

Mr. Yeager, I deliberately didn’t look you up so I don’t know what you believe beyond what you say in your letter. Maybe you’ve posted some of the same stuff as Jurgmeister, and maybe you haven’t. Perhaps you are a bit more PR-savvy than your colleague.

But I do question how you can support someone like Matthesius, participate in his organization, and have the gall to publicly attempt to paint Awaken Church as a loving place. Jurgmeister is obviously not spreading a message of love for all, and the Coronado Times [letter to the editor] you wrote in response to is far from the only muck that has been raked in that regard. I invite readers to Google Awaken and their staff as I did and draw their own conclusions.

I know local churchgoers and they’re not hateful people. There are many local churches that have a true message of love. I’m not attending them either, but I’m also not blasting them in a letter to the editor.

Awaken is different. It’s a megachurch that has a very specific message and very open and obvious culture war politics. Politics that we should not want associated with our community. Politics that Mr. Yeager says should “influence culture.”

There are immigrants, gay people, liberals, and people of color that live, work, and serve in Coronado. Demographics that Jurgmeister clearly does not hold in high regard. If we invite Awaken in, what are we telling them?

I took screenshots if anyone wants them. But for now, Google will lead you right to the Gettr posts. Go see for yourself.

 – Travis Cleveland

June 5, 2023 edit: the title of this letter to the editor was changed to be more descriptive.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]