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January 18, 2006

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» KELO takes a church; utilitarianism on the march from The Anchoress
Heather Wilhelm details how a church (non-tax-paying) is being taken to make room for tax revenues! Since the Supreme Courts controversial Kelo decision last summer, eminent domain has entered a new frontier. It’s not just grandma’s house ... [Read More]

Comments

chris

Another opportunity for the persecution of Christians that we have the liberals on the SCOTUS to thank for.

Isn't this just ducky. How long before the Boston City Council sees this and starts to get ideas?

I certainly wouldn't be foolish enough to bet against that scenario coming true in the next 3-5 yeras.

Old Zhou

My own opinion is that Tulsa County's Vision 2025 Project is, in general, a very good thing.

The Sand Springs Keystone Corridor Redevelopment Project, sposored by the city of Sand Springs, is also, IMHO, a generally good thing--redeveloping an older area. Roll over Project 29 on this interactive map, at the left side of Sand Springs, for project info.

The Centennial Baptist Church lies, I think, in the "Service Area" below and to the right of the Retail A-B-C building in this development map. The church would probably be flattened to make a loading dock and trash area at the back of the retail buildings.

It is not as if the dear residents of Sand Springs, OK, will be without a church. There are more tha 70 other churches in Sand Springs.

Remember that anybody can call themselves a preacher, or a pastor, in parts of the Evangelical Protestant world (if they can preach), and open a church in a store front or vacant commercial building, or build their own church on available land, and file the appropriate paper work for tax exempt status. It is much, much easier than anything involving the Catholic Church.

I think cities have a right to do these regional re-developments, for the sake of the entire community, and asking a little Baptist Church to move is just part of life. Time to pack up the tabernacle (in the sense of Exodus, the Tent, the little Chrisitan flock on the road...not the Catholic thingy called a tabernacle).

Kevin Jones

The juggernaut has been going on for decades. Lots of old and vital urban neighborhoods have been treated like so much economic fertilizer plowed under to make way for superhighways.

How long until the cemeteries are rezoned for commerical interests?

Old Zhou

Dear Kevin Jones,

San Francisco has been moving the dead to make room for the living since 1870.

As the city grew, the City abolished the Yerba Buena Cemetery in 1870 and the graves moved to the "newer" cemeteries on Lone Mountain, including the Odd Fellow's and Masonic cemeteries, and the City Cemetery. By the 1890s and 1900s, the City and citizens realized with the rapid expansion of the growth that the cemeteries were taking up valuable land. During the 1910s, they began to pass City Ordinances to remove the current cemeteries. During the 1920s, the Masonic and Odd Fellow's were moved to the Town of Lawndale, south of San Francisco and in San Mateo county. The removals for the Calvary and Laurel Hill cemeteries were held up in court challenges and it wasn't until about 1941 that the removals were finished. The name of Lawndale was changed in the 1940s to Colma.
...
The City Cemetery, established in 1868, included a number of different organizations, and it appears that portions of the older cemeteries were moved here at some point. Eventually everyone in this cemetery supposedly was moved and the area became Fort Miley, a municipal golf course, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. But, during renovation and expansion of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in the summer of 1993, "about 300 corpses from the Gold Rush era—two of them still clutching rosaries, others were wearing dentures and Levis—were unearthed from what appears to be an old pauper's graveyard. Some experts say another 11,000 bodies might lie underneath the museum grounds" according to a Los Angeles Times article (12 November 1993, A-23).

It is the American way.

Caroline

If KELO had been in place then, Old St. Patrick's church might have been expropriated for the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Since the church fits in beautifully with the view from the Center, even appears to be part of the Center, I doubt that the church will ever be in danger from the city. Presently the church seems well attended, even on week days, but should this ever change, the church will be in danger from the Archdiocese.

The only safe cemetery left in San Francisco is the military cemetery in the Presidio.

Dave Pawlak

A city in California tried to do this to a church. The judge ruled in favor of the church.

Perhaps Centennial ought to sue in this case...

fbc

Old Zhou's comments are the most callous thing I've read today. [A]sking a little Baptist Church to move is just part of life.

Damned easy for you to say. And what about when the Chamber of Commerce (which in Tulsa is the corrupt force behind Vision 2025) decides that Holy Family Cathedral's real estate could be put to better use?

And while I'm at it - Vision 2025 is as corrupt a deal as they come. For nigh 15 years the construction companies and the major banking interests had been trying to foist a new sports arena on downtown Tulsa (where I have worked my entire adult life, by the way.) Each time they took it to the voters, the voters said "No. Develop the (Arkansas) River first." Each time they went back to the drawing board, bided their time and tried again.

They finally succeeded two years by selling it as an economic bailout for American Airlines and Boeing. While those two stalking horses inevitably failed, the voters are left with a huge arena which was low-balled at a price they could never have built it for, and which most reliable analysts have predicted will end up being an empty white elephant draining the city coffers of approximately 7 to 10 million dollars a year.

David C

Old Zhou, certainly you wouldn't mind sacrificing your house... or those of your parents... for the economic well being of your city (or at least the wealthiest individuals in the city)? You wouldn't mind being forced to accept what monied interests feel is a fair market value right? Nor care that your property is handed to some tycoon who knows how to bribe the city council?

You should show the courage of your convictions and volunteer all you have for the good of the wealthy oligarchs that the state most favors. You first.

Old Zhou

Hey guys, you're a bit late with the challenges. My families "ancestral home" (well, since the 1920's when my great-grandpa built it) was already redeveloped into a shopping center in the 1990's. And I'm familiar with the business of little evangelical churches. They are very portable. This is not a Catholic Church. Everything Catholic is incredibly complicated.

Old Zhou

Since I'm still awake at 1am Pacific Time, let me add a few words about my experience with evangelical Protestant Church portability.

1. The building is a building. The people are the Church. This is a basic principle that is, I believe, incomprehensible to many Catholics. That is why we can meet in a rented bank building on Sunday, or a rented school room, or whatever. THE BUILDING DOES NOT MATTER.

2. This could be a great Gospel opportunity for Centennial Baptist, and they may reach many new neighbors and preach the gospel while in this building transition.

3. The last evangelical Chinese church where I ministered had NO BUILDING. We rented a local Lutheran church building for Friday night college ministry meetings, and for Sunday worship, after the Lutherans cleared out. Bible study was in various homes. For baptisms we used the San Francisco Bay.

4. The penultimate evangelical Chinese church where I ministered bought...a Baptist Church! It was for sale because the Baptist community got too small to support it, and they moved in with the Congregationalists down the street. No big deal. We remodeled the place (from "no sacred art" to "no sacred art") and I lived in the rectory. But really, we only used the building for worship on Sunday morning, and for prayer meetings on Tuesday night. The rest of the time the place was mostly empty.

I still feel that Catholics are too sensitive about their buildings, but what do I know. My Protestant formation prepared me for missionary work, or taking the Church underground. Buildings are not necessary. Nice, but not necessary. It is the people who are the Church, not the building.

In my local area, the "old" Catholic Church built in the late 1890's is gone, replaced by a bigger one in the 1950's. And the new suburban parish was built inthe 1960's. The Catholic college moved here in the 1930's, after being destroyed in the earthquake in 1906. Our "Cathedral" was destroyed in the earthquake in 1989 or whenever it was, and we're building a new one (where there was a commercial parking lot last year). Even the Los Angeles Cathedral was destroyed by earthquake, so the built the beautiful new cathedral. In California, buildings don't last long, either from natural reasons, or from the urge to make things even newer.

And, at least in my family, there is little sense of attachment to any place. My parents lived in about 15 different places in the 11 years they were married. And my father kept up the pace afterward. I used to joke that my "home" was the freeway, as I lived all along it.

Sorry, but if the city wants to redevelop, I say, "Go ahead." I'm not attached to buildings, or to places. But I am attached to people, to Scripture, to community.

So, I don't see this as any sort of crisis for Centennial Baptist. Rather, an opportunity.

Sandra Miesel

St. Vibiana, the former Cathedral of LA, was damaged, not destroyed by the earthquake. It could have been repaired but Mahony wanted the opportunity to build his hideous Yellow Armadillo. The former cathedral has since been repaired and converted into a beautiful arts center.

jp

This is a demographic problem that's been around since the 40s. Older urban neighborhoods decay as they younger generation moves to the 'burbs. What were once vibrant parish's filled with Italians,Poles, Germans, or Irish become little more than landmarks or museums.

The more recent Protestant chuches are more mobile. Heck, in my city, tiny congregations meet in old auto shops, bingo halls, warehouses, and strip malls. They stay in one location long enough to get a few parishoners, then they split. Prehaps this is the modern version of the traveling preacher and his tent revivals.

There is an area of our downtown that once had a beautifull stone Methodist church. The Methodists abandoned this fin de siecle building, and for the last 25 years it has housed, The Church of the Nazarene, Missionary Church, Church of Zion, Assembly of God, and is now being used by the Masons. It sits on prime real estate, and produces no tax revenue. Would the city be remiss on tearing it down?

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