- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Budget deal to get quick vote in the House
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro ‘marriage’
- Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
- American dream dying, but many see free market as solution: Poll
- Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
Pastor: Prince George’s trying to limit church size
WASHINGTON (AP) – A pastor whose church won millions in a religious discrimination lawsuit against Maryland’s Prince George’s County says officials are trying to limit the size of the church’s new building, including a sanctuary with seating for 900.
Reaching Hearts International, a Seventh Day Adventist Church, has tried for the last decade to build a church in West Laurel, but the Prince George's County Council has in the past blocked preliminary building steps.
The county argued that extensive building could affect the capacity of a nearby reservoir and threaten water quality. In 2008, a jury awarded the church $3.7 million in a religious discrimination lawsuit and ordered the county to let building proceed.
On Tuesday the council made changes in response to the court decision, allowing the church to extend water and sewer lines and begin the building process on just under half of its 17-acre property. Councilwoman Mary Lehman, whose district includes the property, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Reaching Hearts needs permission to develop about 12 acres of land it purchased in 2001 to carry out its planned building, but the council’s action Tuesday makes only seven acres available for development, Oxentenko said. The pastor said the congregation has already scaled down its plans from the 1,500-seat sanctuary it sought in 2001.
“The decision they made was a deliberate attempt to define the size of this church on their own terms,” said Oxentenko, whose congregation of 300 adult members currently holds religious services at a conference center in Spencerville.
“This is not a megachurch. This is just a church,” he said of the space.
By comparison, Washington’s National Cathedral seats between 2,000 and 3,000.
The church currently has a second religious discrimination lawsuit pending against the county; the county has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgement in Heller II
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow