While the Potter's House Christian Fellowship Church is new in town, it is affiliated with Victory Chapel, a church that left town after generating a major controversy. On October 31, 2003, a group of protesters from Victory Chapel accosted children as they entered the Payson Public Library to attend an event called "Harry Potter, a Kid's Night Out."
"They were screaming, ‘Don't go in there, it's evil. Don't read Harry Potter.' It was amazing and pathetic," Pat Helmick, library circulation clerk, said. "I mean, if you don't want your kids to read a book, then just don't have them read it. It's so simple. A person came in and gave me a copy of the paper they were handing the children. It had scriptures on it talking about abominations and adultery -- stuff that I never got from reading Harry Potter. I mean, my goodness."
Potter's House Pastor Dan Green admits the connection.
"We have 1,200 churches worldwide and Victory Chapel is one of the names for the churches," he said. "There's The Door, Potter's House, Victory Chapel ..."
But he denied he would personally use such tactics.
"I wouldn't want to accost children at all," he said. "They closed Victory Chapel down. I don't know all the history and I really don't want to know.
"My calendar says 2005. The past is the past; I can't undo anything."
The Potter's House was founded in Prescott by Wayman Mitchell in the early 1970s, according to the Christian Research Institute. Its thrust is primarily street evangelism.
"The name comes from ‘Jeremiah,'" Green said. "The Lord comes to Jeremiah and says, ‘Go down to the potter's house, and there I'll have you hear my word.'"
There are reports from former members alleging that the church is cultish and exercises mind control over its members.
The Payson Potter's House is holding Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Julia Randall Elementary School.
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