You are here: Home
Welcome to the Kent church of Christ website. Here we have the opportunity to encourage you to join us in worship, inform you of upcoming events, and urge you to join our church family as we gather together to glorify God.
7 August 2014
KENT, Oh. (BNc) by David R. Kenney — Christians from various congregations often travel to sing together in special events. The Friday Night Sing on July 25, in Kent, Ohio, was an extra special occasion.
The church in Kent meets at the building located at 319 South DePeyster Street and is in jeopardy of losing their place of worship.
The city of Kent passed a levy to expand its Safety Administration Building. The problem is that the location targeted to complete this project includes the property where this congregation has met for several years.
Governments (federal, state or local) may legally take private property, and reimburse the owner, under “eminent domain,” provided it can substantiate its claim that such an action is for the public use or “public good”. This power, eminent domain, is what the local government of Kent is exercising.
The government is required to provide the “fair market value” of the property to the owner. In the State of Ohio, if a mutually agreeable assessment of “fair market value” is not obtained, the owner may contest the decision. The mechanism for this impasse resolution is for the government to file lawsuit against the property owner which will be decided by a jury trial.
The situation reminds me of the term “juxtaposition,” which is laying an action side-by-side for comparison or contrast. Allow me, if you will, to explain this juxtaposition—the government wants to take the property owned by Christians for the “public good”.
It is a rather striking contrast as to which use of the property would better serve the “public good” — an expanded Safety Administration building designed to save lives, or a place of worship that specializes in the saving of lives and souls?
Although the building and property are not the church, there are many in the town and surrounding areas that are pondering that very question — should a church’s building and property be seized under “eminent domain”?
It is a significant question, particularly in our day! It is a situation that may generate all types of emotional responses.
So the recent Friday Night Sing was special. Who knows but it might be the last time this event will be held in this building? Christians, together with some who were aware of this incident, came together and sang songs, hymns and spiritual songs to each other and to God (Ephesians 5:19).
The building was packed with 148 in attendance. Those who had been a part of the congregation the longest stated it was the largest gathering in their history.
Interestingly, this building was built by the Church of the Brethren in 1900, but the church purchased the property in 1956. (The historical significance of the building is a factor in the equation, but has not stopped this action.)
The building also includes a balcony. People in the main auditorium and in the balcony and song leaders on the platform pressed in for a wonderful night of gospel singing that people on the street took notice and interest in.
From my vantage point, the congregation in Kent has taken the higher road on the matter. They do not want to lose the property unless “fair market value” is such that it can replace what they have now. In my opinion, that is a fair request.
The church has not been belligerent or mean-spirited throughout this process, from what I have seen. This has not gone unnoticed by the community.
In fact, several have been made aware of the church and her plight, which provides opportunity to proclaim the gospel in such a way that may have never been possible before in the city of Kent.
This is something the church at Kent hopes to be one of the good things to come out of this difficulty.
What can you do? First, pray for this congregation.
Second, pray that this situation not only works out for the church but also that those who have never had reason to look at the plea of churches of Christ to follow the New Testament will give such a plea an honest investigation.
Third, pray for our communities and governments that they will consider having Jesus Christ and his followers, Christians, as a blessing, not only for our communities, but our nation, too. It seems, at times, that this blessing is being overlooked or taken for granted.
This article is not intended to cast the government of the city of Kent in a negative light, but to challenge us all to think on these matters.
To visit this church’s web site and read more about this story, go here.
David Kenney works with the Wadsworth, Oh, congregation and conducts the “Light from Above” television program, which can be seen on gbntv.org.
KENT CHURCH DOESN'T WANT TO MOVE FOR KENT SAFETY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING PROJECT
July 23, 2014 4:00AM
You can't fight city hall.
The Kent Church of Christ is learning that all too well as members resist the city's advances to acquire their property at 319 S. DePeyster St. to make way for the new taxpayer-funded, $18 million Safety Administration Building project planned on College Avenue.
The city is looking to acquire somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 parcels for the building slated for completion in late 2016. Those property owners not interested in selling will likely lose their land anyway by way of eminent domain.
But members of Church of Christ are not interested in leaving the building their congregation has called home since the mid 1950s.
"We understand that if the city wants this property, they're going to take it. There's nothing we can do to stop it," said Greg Evans, a church trustee and member since 1993. "But if it comes to that point and time, how do we hold the congregation together, and how do we let go?"
The small congregation has fewer than 30 members -- but that's more than called the church home 20 years ago. Some have attended the nondenominational church their entire lives. Being a few blocks away from the Kent State University campus, they also draw a small group of students each year.
The building, Evans said, is what brings their core group together.
"It's just very hard to look at the members who have been here and tell them there's nothing we can do," Evans said. "It's heartbreaking."
The structure was built in 1900 and operated as the Church of Brethren until 1956, when it became the Kent Church of Christ. However, it has no claims to historical significance, trustees said.
Michael O'Flaherty, the church's treasurer and a trustee, said the city has been "cordial" with members, but he fears there's little chance their church will remain where it is now.
The trustees, who own the 4,600-square-foot building, say they've been offered $210,000 for the property appraised at $175,000 this spring, plus some more for moving expenses. Negotiations are ongoing, however.
"That, to me, is an astronomical amount of money," Evans said. "But it's not about the money."
Minister Steve Chapman said renting space at a suitable commercial property in Kent would cost about $500,000. To outright purchase land plus a building would cost close to $1 million.
"So it may sound like a decent offer, but when you start looking at commercial properties or just to be able to replicate what we have here, that's the dilemma," O'Flaherty said. "The cost of real estate in Kent is crazy."
"We're just kind of feeling like the little people here," he added.
So far, City Council has approved the purchase of six properties for $991,000. Four of those properties are located on College Avenue. The other two are on South DePeyster Street and Tonkin Court.
If forced to move, church trustees said they'd meet in a member's home if they have to in order to stay together. Another option could be to relocate closer to Brimfield on S.R. 43, Evans said, but then they'd lose their potential for foot traffic they enjoy with their proximity near downtown Kent.
"It's a very tough time for us," Evans said. "God will get us through whether we stay together or disperse. We just want to do our job to serve Him as best as we can do."
Facebook:Jeremy Nobile, Record-Courier