By Tiffany Chan

MEDFORD (CBS) – A controversial sign in Medford sparked dueling protests along Salem Street Friday.

“This is a message of God’s truth and us trying to reveal it to our community,” said Pastor Joseph Hawkins of New England Baptist Church.

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Pastor Hawkins’ sign about gender identity read:

GEN 5:2

That message isn’t sitting well with the non-binary community who don’t identify as male or female. They showed up by the dozens in protest coming face-to-face with churchgoers.

Sign outside New England Baptist Church in Medford (WBZ-TV)

“The sign itself isn’t being inclusive and it’s not the representation of Medford,” said Jonathan Dallas, who identifies as non-binary.

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It was a peaceful protest, but the LGBTQA community in Medford told WBZ-TV that the message the church posted makes them feel unsafe and unwelcome in the city.

“The message encourages other people to act on it, that if you don’t belong to male or female gender like somebody like myself that’s in between… If I’m walking down the street, is someone following me and will try something,” questioned Jonathan Dallas.

Protesters walk past Pastor Joseph Hawkins of New England Baptist Church in Medford (WBZ-TV)

Pastor Hawkins said they’re not preaching hate or violence, but God’s truth.

“It’s almost hypocritical that they can present their world view and we can’t,” said Hawkins.

While Medford’s mayor believes it’s time that people be more accepting of one another.

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“It’s time for all to know that love is love,” said Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. “Everybody should be able to love who or how they want.”

Tiffany Chan