Illinois Baptist 03 20 2017 E Edition Page 3

THE TICKER Follow the latest Illinois Baptist news NEWS The main issue is parking; the Chicago Zoning Ordinance requires religious assem- blies to have a certain number of parking spaces based on how many people they're able to seat. Immanuel needs 19 spaces to comply with the ordinance, but like many organizations in their neighborhood, the church utilizes street parking. Immanuel and the law firm representing them, Mauck & Baker, are arguing that the ordinance vio- lates the Religious Land Use and Institution- alized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by requiring stricter standards of religious assemblies than for other organizations. The space at 1443 W. Roosevelt had been rented by another church previously. Churches are a permitted use in the zoning, and the City's building department gave Im- manuel an occupancy permit in 2011. City officials assured Carter the sale wouldn't be blocked despite the church's use of street parking. But the City returned a different verdict in July 2016, informing Carter the church still needed to meet the city's parking requirements and that the city must deter- mine if a religious assembly use is something it wants to promote on a commercial corri- dor such as Roosevelt Road, according to a press release from Mauck & Baker. The church's ensuing lawsuit was a last resort, said the pastor. We've been courte- ous and kind throughout the process and not adversarial, seeking to bend over backwards to meet their demands. We have our alder- man's support. Plus, Carter continued, We have many of the same goals for the neighborhood as the City does. We've communicated that if they don't fight it, then we won't seek damages or fees. [The suit is] framed in such a way that they can admit they are bound by the letter of a current zoning ordinance, but then point out how that zoning ordinance is federally il- legal (because of RLUIPA) by requiring more parking spots for religious assembly than it does for non-religious assembly uses that courts have determined are comparable. Carter referred to a sign on the door of his local library, which clearly states the library has no parking and patrons are to park on the street. City ordinances also state live theater venues with fewer than 150 seats need no parking, nor do libraries or cultural exhibits within the first 4,000 feet. Mauck & Baker is arguing Immanuel meets both of these requirements: their building seats 146 people and has less than 4,000 square feet. Carter said the church is praying they can settle the suit within the next month, but if the City decides to continue to fight the pur- chase, the process could be a lengthy one. Still, he said, the church sensed the Lord leading in this direction, albeit a somewhat frightening one. Since 2005 our church has had a vision for being a long-term, stable gos- pel presence in our specific area of the city-a cluster of neighborhoods that surround the University of Illinois at Chicago, Carter said. After meeting in four rented locations over the years and doing an exhaustive search of their community for other spaces, the pur- chase of their current building seems like a strategic decision. If the Lord closes this door, we have no doubt that he will open up another one, Carter said. But at the moment this was the only one that was cracked open, and there are scary lights coming from behind it, but we sensed the Lord wanted us to knock. 3 March 20, 2017 IB Continued from page 1 From the front: Church perseveres in building purchase Crews aid recovery Storm impact felt across Illinois Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief teams responded in the wake of tornadoes that tore across the state Feb. 28, leaving several communities to pick up the pieces. Volunteer teams worked largely on chainsaw projects, removing damaged limbs and clearing debris. In Elkville, located 20 minutes north of Carbondale, volunteers from Metro East, Saline, and Williamson Baptist Associations responded to needs in that com- munity and nearby Vergennes and Ava after a tornado cut a wide swath of damage across two states before ending near Christopher, Ill. Don Kragness , a Di- saster Relief blue cap supervisor and member of Third Baptist in Marion, told local TV station WSIL, We are here, basically, because we love Jesus and we want to serve him, and the best way we know how to serve him is to help people when they're in need. FBC Elkville served as a headquarters for communi- ty response to the tornado; the church helped relocate families and made sure they had necessary clean-up supplies, and is continuing to distribute resources to those in need. A Disaster Relief team from Greater Wabash Asso- ciation also responded to needs in the Crossville area, and Franklin Association lent their Disaster Relief shower trailer to the recovery efforts. In northern Illinois, volunteers worked in Naplate and near the town of Ottawa, where two people were killed and homes were destroyed by a tornado that produced wind speeds of 155 mph. Disaster Relief workers from Three Rivers Association assessed dam- age in the area, and Streator Baptist Camp housed vol- unteers who came to serve. Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief has more than 1,700 trained volunteers who serve as part of the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief ministry-the third largest relief agency in the U.S. For more infor- mation about upcoming Disaster Relief training op- portunities in Illinois, go to disaster relief Video stills from WSIL-TV in Carterville Courtesy of Mauck & Baker

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