Protesting Church Expansion

August 9, 2005 by

Protesting Church ExpansionAnd I thought growing churches conflicting with their neighbors would be an isolated deal. Maybe not.

On Sunday neighbors were protesting the 4,000-member St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif. and their plans to expand. The 58-year-old church hopes to add a youth center, classrooms and underground parking, a 21,000-square-foot addition to their 104,000-square-foot facility.

Neighbors complain about the added noise, traffic and parking problems.

“The bottom line is I don’t think anyone wants the disruption,” said Waverly Lassila, a Newport Heights resident who calls St. Andrew’s a “King Kong Church.”

Neighbors have suggested the church relocate, but that doesn’t seem likely.

“We have no desire to be a megachurch,” said St. Andrew’s pastor John Huffman, who has served there for 28 years. “We’re trying to serve the parish here. And no one is going to convince us we need to leave.”

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Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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9 Responses to “Protesting Church Expansion”

  • Richard
    August 10, 2005

    At 4,000 members the church is already a megachurch! The damage to neighborhood relations will be long term and felt decades from now.

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  • Anne Jackson
    August 10, 2005

    Still, they may not desire to be a mega church. From a church of the same size, I know it’s never our desire to be a megachurch. They should have a meeting with their neighborhood and members to see how some sort of compromise can be reached. They should share their vision of love with the community and pray for their community.

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  • C Eliott J
    August 17, 2005

    “St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church officials have waited 2½ years to find out if they can expand their facilities for the first time since 1982.”
    From the Daily Pilot article

    Honestly, I am no proponent of the mega-church concept, but I think the protesting neighbors in this scenario are wrong. I attend a church of less then 200 members and we are facing some of the same issues with a tiny expansion. I could understand if the church had a history of gratuitous expansion, but to protest against the first development in 23 years is just a show of bias toward Christianity. Additionally, traffic and noise are very shallow excuses. This is a church for goodness sake, not a themepark.

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  • Jimmy
    October 27, 2005

    Not a themepark you say? Well the parking lot we are getting here in Richland Washington is large enough to hold a carnival if that counts. And traffic IS an issue. We have problems every day. It is offensive and arrogant of churches to impose on a neighborhood that doesn’t want them. And to top it off we are demonized by the church for opposing them. Who woulda thought??

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  • Jarred
    December 22, 2005

    It just goes to show how important it is to ensure the church (both leadership and congregation) maintains strong relationships with their neighbours. You know… love thy neighbour… If the church is a blessing to their neighbours they are less likely to complain or not want the church there. Additionally – longer term if the neighbours end up coming to church they will support the vision. It just takes time, prayer and effort to maintain the relationships. It can be done.

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  • Darrell
    May 24, 2006

    I always find it interesting when folks move into neighboorhoods, knowing there is a church there, and then complain AFTER they’ve moved in about the detrimental effects of living near a church facility. Seems like the only neighbors who should be able to complain are those who have lived there longer than the fifty-eight years the church has been there.

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  • Jim V
    October 2, 2006

    Praise God this congregation of the PCUSA is growing. That denomination as a whole is shrinking fast.

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  • St. Andrews
    December 20, 2006

    St. Andrews is hardly a mega church. Official rolls are now listed around 3,500 member, with average weekly (weakly)attendance around 1,200. That counts three services including all the people who are kept on the payroll.
    St. Andrews has abandoned its building effort, and instead will pursue a more Newport-appropriate remodeling. The real reason? Money. Large scale giving has been tapped out. So the best business (secular) decision was made – spend what was collected and update a couple of the structures.

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  • kct
    December 20, 2006

    St Andrews:
    admittedly, I am using wikipedia, but it says that a megachurch has over 2,000 people by definition, making St Andrews a megachurch. However, being in California, which has a lot of big churches, it probably doens’t really seem like one.
    If you are talking about Bethel, the worst traffic problem is the people who go there and mess with that terrible parking lot. What a nightmare. As far as things go on Keene, waiting 30 seconds for some cops to let some cars on the road is hardly a traffic nightmare. It seems that you’ve lived in Eastern Washington for far too long if that seems bad. Bethel may mismanage their land a bit, but they can’t be causing that much of a headache.

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