Genevieve Heywood

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - The pastor of the Veradale United Church Of Christ said the Mayor of Spokane Valley is putting her congregation in danger - apparently because they took a stand against white power politics, including the controversies surrounding Representative Matt Shea.

On Progress Road in Spokane Valley sits Veradale United Church Of Christ. The church has been part of the Veradale community for more than 100 years.

While the congregation under Genevieve Heywood hasn't been afraid to choose sides on issues like race and religion's place in government, Heywood said they've never come close to what Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins claimed.

Higgins sat down with KHQ exclusively in an interview last week.

"The progressives are a subset of Antifa. If you go online and look them up, you'll see there's a close association in there, and ultimately, they're probably funded by George Soros," Mayor Higgins said.

Antifa is a far-left militant movement and George Soros, is a frequent target of far-right political attacks that have bordered on real violence.

Heywood said nothing can be further from the truth.

"I've met with Mayor Higgins, and we've met here at this church. I gave him the story of being in this community since 1910 and gave him also the background on the faith leaders and leaders of conscience, which began in 2018. Both groups are locally funded and are dedicated to non-violence," Pastor Heywood told KHQ's Peter Maxwell in a sit down interview.

But those same leaders of conscience - including Heywood - are the ones who have called for the resignation of one of Mayor Higgins' close political friends, Matt Shea. Heywood's church also has been holding monthly vigils opposing Christian identity politics, of which Matt Shea is one of the region's most vocal proponents.

Heywood said she's open to further debate with the mayor on these matters. But she said the conspiracies have got to stop before someone gets hurt.

"I know we're better than that. I know our Valley is better than that," Heywood concluded.

KHQ did reach out to Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins for comment on this story but he has not responded. Once he does, the article will be updated.