Sanctuary Versus City • Hidden Cell Phone Tower • Church Pays Medical Debts: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Sanctuary Versus City • Hidden Cell Phone Tower • Church Pays Medical Debts: News Roundup
Image: Tony Stoddard / Unsplash

City and Church in Showdown over Sanctuary for Family. “South Congregational Church [in Springfield, Massachusetts], which is providing sanctuary for a Peruvian woman facing deportation, will not permit the city to inspect the site unless it obtains a court warrant, officials said Tuesday. Both Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Tara Parrish, a lead organizer of the sanctuary, said the church is denying entry to city inspectors without a warrant, also referred to as a court order. ‘I'm disappointed,’ Sarno said. ‘The city and our employees are just trying to do their jobs and that is what the taxpayers expect.’ . . . Sarno said using the church as housing for the Peruvian woman, Gisella Collazo, and her two children, raises the issues of public health, safety and code compliance. . . . While Immigration and Customs Enforcement is believed to have the power to enter church property to take custody of undocumented immigrants, the agency has avoided doing so under a policy describing churches as ‘sensitive locations’ (“Get a warrant: South Congregational Church not letting Springfield inspectors inside immigrant sanctuary,” MassLive.com).

See our download Immigration and the Church for more guidance on how to proceed legally in sticky immigration situations.

Church Upsets Neighbors with Hidden Cell Phone Tower Inside Bell Tower. “An Aurora, Colorado, neighborhood is hoping to find some common ground with a local church after the church erected a 60-foot-tall beige cell phone tower. ‘There needs to be some consideration for the residents that are directly impacted by its unsightly towering loom over the city and the landscape that we should be preserving,’ Mary Alice Reda said. . . . Reda lives adjacent to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Aurora’s Cobblewood Subdivision. She said her neighborhood was never notified about the stealth tower; which was designed to look like a bell tower. Reda is also concerned about the church’s plans to remove 21 trees near her property line for a parking lot expansion. The church is building a new chapel and plans to add more than 100 new parking spaces. The move will bring pavement just 5 feet from Reda’s backyard. It’s another plan by the church she wasn’t made aware of” (“Church, Neighbors Disagree over Cell Phone Tower Placement,” CBS Local Denver).

Church Pays Off $10 Million in Families’ Medical Debt. “A pastor in Carrollton heard about NBC 5's medical debt initiative and wanted to get involved. He said with a problem this massive, he knew he had to do something big to help make a change.
. . .
“’If you give $100, then you're paying off $10,000 of debt, right? Well, what if you gave $100,000? If you pay off $100,000, you pay off $10 million of debt that is potentially crushing and/or keeping people from taking their next step in life and fulfilling what they're called to do,’ he said. . . . ‘Covenant [Church], we committed $100,000, and this week 4,229 families in our area will get a letter saying your debt is completely paid,’ the pastor revealed. With the help of the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt, Covenant made a $100,000 donation that will help thousands of families with medical debt” (“Local Church Donates $100,000, Eliminates $10 Million in Medical Debt,” NBCDFW.com).

See Best Practices for Receiving Charitable Contributions for more help on handling donations.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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