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Church Sues for Right to Worship in Homewood


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The Word Seed Church has filed a lawsuit seeking equal treatment in the purchase of property to be used for religious purposes in response to the Village of Homewood’s unfair and burdensome zoning ordinance.

Currently, the Village of Homewood subjects religious assemblies to an expensive, time consuming, and overly burdensome review process throughout its entire jurisdiction. In contrast, similar nonreligious assemblies are not so restricted as the Village freely permits them throughout several of its zoning districts.

Such treatment violates the United States Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause as well as the “Equal Terms,” “Unreasonable Limitations,” and “Substantial Burden” provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

“It’s a bit surprising to see a municipality prohibit all new churches in any location unless they first get ‘special permission’ from the Village,” said John Mauck, attorney for the Church. “We hope Homewood will quickly correct this inequity.”

The Word Seed Church, which has primarily been conducting services in its pastor’s own home, claims that the ability to fully and effectively conduct religious exercise has been substantially hampered by not having a church property.

For instance, crucial to a church’s mission is the ability to serve the community in various ways including full worship services, weddings, baptisms, communion, and other ministries, all of which Word Seed cannot do without a designated church building.

In addition, the Church has been informed that without a building to worship, the State of Illinois will not reinstate the Church’s sales tax exemption, causing the ministry to pay sales tax on any purchases it makes.

“The scripture tells us not to neglect meeting together, but to encourage one another in Hebrews 10:25,” Pastor Keinon Washington said. “It also says in Luke 14:23 that we are to go and compel them to come in, that Christ’s house shall be filled. In order to fulfill this great commission of Christ, a building for gathering, fellowship, and teaching is of importance. We are kingdom builders. Our church brings to the community a commitment to serve as a spiritual influence and guide to all those who are in need. We were commissioned to preach the Gospel into all the world as it states in Mark 16:15, and we wish to serve as advocates for this community in meeting their primary needs of food, clothing, and shelter.”

“I felt it necessary by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to file this lawsuit not just for The Word Seed Church, but for our brothers and sisters in Christ who may not know how or understand what is needed to subdue and possess their own land when many municipalities and cities hinder the fulfillment of the charge by Christ for churches.”



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