Church gets zoning OK

April 17, 1997


Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday unanimously approved a church's request to move to a building on Church Street.

The New Light Metropolitan Community Church, a church that welcomes homosexuals, held its first religious service at the 20 W. Church St. location last Sunday. The church opened in Hagerstown on North Potomac Street last February.

William Wantz, chairman of the zoning board, said the church met the requirements for the special exception that is needed to operate in the commercial zone. He said he was impressed that the church averages about 50 people per week when its membership is 41.

"There seems to be an abundance of parking," Wantz said. "I thought it was remarkable for a church to have an average attendance that exceeds its membership."


The Rev. Robert L. Griffin said the church decided to move when it learned the Unitarian Universalist Church, with which it shared space on North Potomac Street, was selling its building.

Griffin said the building on Church Street, a former automotive parts store, is a more accessible building. He also expressed a desire to serve as a beacon for the troubled neighborhood that surrounds it.

"They're looking to improve this section of town and they feel if a church can't do it, maybe nothing else can," Griffin said.

Waynesboro, Pa., resident Lorna Deane Hall, who spoke in favor of the church, echoed that point: "I think we need to be where people can get to us. There are a lot of people doing unchristian things in the area."

Several other people testified in favor of the church, including the Rev. Christopher J. Chantelau of Trinity Lutheran Church.

No one spoke against the church's request.

Last November, the Washington County Council of Churches voted to accept New Light as a member.

The Herald-Mail Articles