Although a pastor should not need an attorney to use a public library, teaching pastor Kendall Lankford had to lawyer up when a local library attempted to cancel his “Pastor Story Hour.”
The Shepherd’s Church pastor decided to schedule time in one of the library’s private rooms to read to children at Chelmsford Public Library Hour. Chelmsford Library in Massachusetts initially allowed the event but then canceled shortly beforehand, claiming Lankford was violating the library’s “meeting room and acceptable behavior policies.”

Library co-director Lesley Kimball accused Lankford of misrepresenting his plans for story hour. Lankford hoped to help kids gain a different perspective on drag queen story hour. The church’s website included a blog in which Lankford expressed a desire to join pastors around the country who gave kids a different option. They booked rooms at their local libraries and offered kids wholesome messages to offset drag shows using books like “God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender” and “Jesus and My Gender.”

Library officials canceled the event adding notices on social media that said, “policies state that no proselytizing is allowed in the library.” Their notices went on, “In addition, publicity may only list the library as the meeting site; co-sponsorship with the library may not be indicated without prior agreement. The Shepherd’s Church’s publicity violates both of these provisions as evidenced by the library and public perception,” the statement continued, “The Library is pausing public meeting room use (excepting the small study rooms) until further notice in order to review policies.”

President and general counsel of the Massachusetts Family Institute, Andrew Beckwith, emailed the library Thursday challenging their accusations against Pastor Lankford. Beckwith dismantled the library’s accusation that Lankford intended to proselytize patrons reminding the library that Lankford had scheduled a private room where patrons who did not wish to participate could easily avoid it. He wrote,

“First, your interpretation of the library’s prohibition on proselytizing is demonstrably incorrect, to the point that your reliance on that policy can only be seen as a pretext for anti-religious discrimination,” 

“The clear purpose of the policy is to prevent a patron from proselytizing to other patrons in a way that is disruptive,” he continued. “There is no basis to believe that Mr. Lankford holding an event in a closed room, physically separated from patrons who do not want to hear his message, could be disruptive to other patrons.”

Beckwith continued that there “is simply no evidence that Mr. Lankford ever indicated co-sponsorship with the library”; rather, “at most,” he indicated the location was where he would lead story hour.

Early Friday morning, the Library announced that the event would proceed and that they were not a sponsor, 

“After receiving advice from legal counsel, the meeting room reservation for a ‘Pastor Story Hour’ has been reinstated at its original time of 11 a.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023, in the McCarthy Meeting Room at the Chelmsford Public Library. The Library does not support or endorse this event and is not a sponsor or co-sponsor.”

Protestors showed up to demonstrate against pastor Lankford, yet his friend and fellow pastor tweeted an encouraging reminder that “This is a fantastic movement!” Noting that 50 people attended Pastor Story Hour.


Beckwith responded to the change of heart at the library, saying, “While we are pleased that the Pastor Story Hour will be able to go forward as planned this morning, the fact remains that in America, a pastor shouldn’t need a lawyer to use the library.”

Chelmsford Library Sign

Sadly, those committed to protecting children from overt sexualization have been denigrated as hateful and unloving. These slurs come from propagandists who are not concerned about proselytizing impressionable children with sexually deviant behavior.

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