Woody announced to the congregation that he sought "political asylum". He explained that government authorities sought to torture and kill him. He threatened himself with a knife in an attempt to persuade parishioners to stay and bear witness. The congregation divided over whether to honor Woody's plea. The 18 congregants who stayed were in effect honoring Woody's request by staying and bearing witness. Church president Charles Butterfield, effectively denied his request by placing a 911 call to have Woody removed. Charles requested plainclothes officers, and communicated to the dispatcher that Woody was "deathly afraid" of authorities.
After he had been shot, Woody spoke the words "It's a political assassination" numerous times, words captured on a voicemail message.
The reasons that Woody chose the Unitarian church to make his asylum plea are not difficult to discover. An article in the U. U. World magazine says woody had 'no connection' to the church yet he had many friends who were Unitarian Universalists.