Rehoboth Beach City Manager Greg Ferrese has issued a permit for a Freedom Rally at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, July 4, on the beach at Rehoboth Avenue to feature a sermon by the Rev. Robert Dekker of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lewes.
Christian Hudson of Hudson Property Management organized the rally after Dekker was denied a request to hold eight Sunday services at the Bandstand. Ferrese denied the request because he said it would violate separation of church and state and because he did not want anyone to be offended by the service.
Although the church did not organize the rally, Dekker accepted a request to speak. Flyers for the rally, not endorsed by the church, state the event would be “in defiance of tyranny.” Dekker submitted a request for a rally June 30; Ferrese accepted the request July 2.
In his June 30 letter, Dekker said the purpose of the event was to celebrate freedom on the nation’s birthday, noting he would seek to honor veterans. He said the event would feature music, prayer, testimony and preaching and would last an hour and 10 minutes.
Ferrese, in his response, said while permission is granted, organizers still must follow city ordinances and keep the crowd under control.
Dekker said he was glad the situation was resolved with a minimum of acrimony. He said the organizers of the rally had not asked for a permit, but he decided to request one. The rally is expected to be different from a church service, Dekker said.
As for church services in Rehoboth, Dekker said if it were up to him, he would try to have services at the beach, although ultimately, church members would have the final say. He said New Covenant got its start in Rehoboth and would like to honor the city’s past as a religious retreat.
“There’s a need, I think, and I was trying to fill it,” Dekker said.