Court Rules Church Can Use Canton Building For Worship

Court Rules Church Can Use Canton Building For Worship

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A court has ruled Christian Fellowship Center can use a Canton building as a place of worship, effective immediately.

The U.S District Court of the Northern District of New York issued a decision in favor of Christian Fellowship Center (CFC) in its case against the village of Canton. 

"This ruling granted CFC the permission to use its property at 25 Court Street as a place of worship, and states that the Village is prohibited from preventing such activity, effective immediately," a release from the church's lawyer states.

For weeks, Christian Fellowship Centers has been trying to get the green light to open a church in Canton's former The Club restaurant, which it bought for $310,000.  

The church was rejected by Canton's zoning board of appeals, which said the retail commercial area on Court Street is not zoned for churches.

Earlier this month, the board said the church can use the former restaurant as a professional office, but not use it to hold services.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced it was supporting the church’s claim that the village of Canton violated its rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

“We are thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness through all this, we are thankful for our constitutional freedoms as Americans, and we are thankful to Judge Kahn for his excellent and speedily rendered decision. Moving forward, CFC Canton is excited to publicly worship Jesus in our building and continue serving our community,” said Pastor Jamie Sinclair.

According to the news release, the church congregation hopes to begin worship services at 25 Court Street very soon.

John Mauck, attorney for CFC said, “Judge Lawrence E. Kahn has issued a 28-page learned opinion that shows the courts diligence concerning civil liberties and recognizes the liberty of Christian Fellowship Center to worship at 25 Court Street in Canton. We hope that this strong ruling will benefit not just religious liberty, but civil liberties throughout northern New York.”

The judge ruled, “Since the Village created what it now ‘purports to be a pure commercial district’ but in fact ‘allow[ed] other uses’—nearly every other type of non-commercial secular assembly—in the same zone, this case is an ‘easy victory’ for the Church under any test.”

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