Church Regains Right to Serve Housing Project after Being Denied for Being ‘Religious’
ICC Note: In September of 2014, Living Water Church of Pennsylvania received a message from the government housing agency stating that they were no longer able to serve at a local government-owned housing project. The message never mentioned a specific rule that they were violating, but simply that they were not allowed to because they had a religious affiliation. The church recently regained the right to carry out this ministry after working with the Christian legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom.
By Heather Clark
05/03/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – A church in Pennsylvania has regained the right to serve and minister at a local government-run housing project after initially being booted simply because the entity was considered to be “religious.”
Rachael Groll, the Children’s Ministry Director at Living Waters Church in Meadville, began reaching out to families at the Gill Village housing project last year after she noticed a group of children eating pancake mix right out of the box.
She began visiting the project several times a week as the church provided free food and clothing, and offered after school mentorship to help the children with their studies. The church also offered free rides to community events as well as to their church. Soon, Groll began leading a “Sidewalk Sunday School” program that consisted of Bibles stories, music and games for the children and their families.
She told Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which provided a report on Groll’s story on Friday, that she witnessed the outreach making an impact on the lives that it touched.
“We saw major transformation and life-change in the community,” Groll stated.
But in September of last year, Living Waters Church received a voicemail message from the government housing agency informing them that they were not welcome back—simply because they were a religious entity.
“I’ve never been up against anything like this, and when I got the call, honestly, I just wept,” Groll stated. “I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I’ve built relationships with these kids and their families.”
She contacted housing project officials, who admitted that Groll’s efforts were making a difference, but reiterated that she could no longer serve the project because the assistance was coming from a church.