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Church, Balloon Separation Demanded in Park Slope

Parents upset over Christian college students’ visit to park.

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Is Park Slope ready for Evangelicals bearing balloons? A group of Ozark Christian College students visiting the Church! of Park Slope recently handed out balloons and cards advertising the church’s Easter-egg hunt at a Prospect Park playground. The response on the parkslopeparents.com message board was swift. “The way in which they used the playground as an opportunity to proselytize made me upset,” wrote one mom. Another noted that a few days earlier, the group gave dog biscuits to her teenage son at the dog run. A dad asked, “Should we really be teaching our kids that adults who go around playgrounds offering balloons and invitations to little kids are harmless?” Katie McMullen, outreach director at the three-year-old church, was surprised by the reaction. “The students said they had gotten a lot of positive response. They were told to ask parents’ permission, and they didn’t give out any postcards to kids, only adults. Saint Francis of Assisi said, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’ ” But maybe not balloons: One alarmed mother posted a reminder that some children have life-threatening allergies to latex, adding, “Also, broken balloons are a hazard for children and animals.”

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