By Brad Dacus
President, Pacific Justice Institute
I’m excited to tell you about a church we have been helping recently … and a terrific outcome on their behalf.
The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church in the Sacramento area had struggled for 11 years to find a place of its own to worship. They found what seemed like the perfect spot, in the Rio Linda area, with a building that had already been approved as a worship center with seating for a larger congregation.
They moved ahead with their plans … until they encountered some unusual local opposition. At PJI, we’ve been representing churches just like this one for many years, so opposition is nothing new to us – but the excuses being given to stop the church were some of the most illogical and unreasonable we’ve ever heard.
In short, an establishment next to the church property had a liquor license. They acknowledged that they were such bad neighbors in terms of traffic, parking, late-night noise and drunken patrons that they didn’t think a church next door would fit into their neighborhood. (Now is it just me, or does this sound like exactly the place where Jesus would want to minister to people desperately in need of healing and hope?!)
Sadly, some also complained that they thought there were already too many churches in the area.
Since PJI has represented and advised countless churches in similar situations and won some important precedents in this area, we helped this church present an appeal to the Planning Commission. It was sobering to hear some of these believers note similarities between the hostility they were experiencing right here in America with the persecution they had fled in Romania.
PJI Attorney, Kevin Snider, wrote to the Commission and spoke at a hearing on behalf of the church. We are thankful to God that the Planning Commission recognized the illegal basis of the opposition and voted 5-0 to approve the church’s plans. Members of the Commission specifically thanked Kevin for his helpful explanation of the law in this area.
It’s possible there may be further opposition and appeals we will need to counter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you know of a pastor or church that is even thinking about building, leasing, buying property, expanding, or anything similar that might require local permits, please let them know that Pacific Justice Institute would be honored to work with them at no charge to advance their important work. Oftentimes, we can help churches avoid major problems much more easily when we are involved right from the start.
Thanks to each of you who make our work possible!
Running the race …