Power of words helps Court weather backlash
Power of words helps Court weather backlash

People sway back and forth inside the packed church hall as a call goes out for those who wish to be saved to step forward.

"Put your hand up if you haven't felt God in your heart," pastor Margaret Court says to the 800-plus congregation on the second floor of the big, warehouse-like building in Osborne Park that houses Pentecostal church Victory Life.

A woman and two men amble their way to the front, flanked by two security guards who wait off to one side as the pastor descends from the stage.

She lays her hands on one man's shoulders and asks him to pray while gently rocking him backwards and forwards.

A guard stands behind him and it becomes clear he's waiting to catch him if he falls. He remains upright and smiles beatifically at Mrs Court when she finally releases him and moves down the line.

A middle-aged woman is up next, with a slightly apprehensive look on her face as Mrs Court reaches for her. She sways back and forward in time with Mrs Court's murmured prayers.

The swaying reaches a peak and the woman's head rolls back, eyes closed, and she is gently caught and lowered to the ground. She lies on the floor and is covered by a bright orange blanket.

This is Victory Life, the church of Mrs Court who in her younger days was a tennis champion and winner of the Australian Open three years running.

The church has grown from about 100 people in 1996 to more than 2500 across the State.

Its leader shot to prominence again in recent weeks over her views on gay marriage as debate rages in Federal Parliament over whether Australia should legislate to allow same-sex marriage. She preached a sermon yesterday on the power of words, something she knows all too well after the media storm that erupted when her comments appeared in The West Australian.

She faced a public backlash but said she would not back down from her views, which seem to be shared by young and old members of her multicultural congregation.

"I heard the rainbow flag would be hanging above the (Australian Open) court and I praise God because the rainbow has a special significance to Christians," Mrs Court said.

She said she did not hold hatred in her heart for gay people but believed her church could help them understand the error of their ways and help people lead a life based on the Bible.

The West Australian

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