The first night of the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) Jerusalem Encounter conference was marred by a short and minor protest by some orthodox Jews who were in the same building. The protest ended when conference organizers blasted Hebrew worship music and those gathered started to worship and pray.
“The police weren’t able to do what the worship did,” Michael Mistretta, chief operating officer of FIRM, told KNI.
When the protesters realized they couldn’t disrupt the conference and, in fact, were ignored and drowned out by conference attendees singing and dancing, they dispersed.
The conference, the second annual one held by the organization, is located in the Clal building, a public shopping area open to anyone passing through. The building is also home to The Pavilion, an auditorium which hosts several Messianic congregations and is the central location for this conference.
With more than 1,000 people registered, mostly Christians from overseas here to connect with local ministries, the conference also features booths manned by member organizations of FIRM. The booths are located in the atrium outside The Pavilion and attracted some orthodox Jews who began harassing the attendees by yelling, spitting and threatening to turn over tables.
According to eye witnesses, the protesters started to get violent and did overturn some booths. One woman who was manning a booth told KNI that the protest began small, with a few teenagers chanting, “Yeshua is dead.” The believers declared, “Yeshua hai” (Jesus is alive) in response.
Mistretta said that police did little to stop the protest, but the antagonizers left when the believers began worshipping and dancing.
The conference was under way in its second day on Wednesday without incident.