Facts, not rumors, should influence outreach center
It is not surprising that the City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to reject a zoning change for a proposed outreach ministry in Northwest Decatur after neighbors expressed concerns.
It is surprising that most of those who opposed Calvary Assembly's proposed food pantry, clothing store and temporary housing facility were members of other churches.
Calvary Assembly Pastor George Sawyer said some of the goals of the proposed facility, in an existing former Methodist Church building, were to reduce crime in the neighborhood and improve property values. Calvary intended to achieve those goals in the manner most Christians know works best, by changing hearts and lives.
"The things we're doing create permanent change — job skills, vocational training breaking the cycle," Rev. Sawyer said.
Calvary needed the zoning change for the facility to house guests overnight. An adjacent building, St. James Cumberland Presbyterian Church, already has that zoning designation.
But in spite of Calvary's track record and success in its existing outreach ministries in Decatur, neighbors opposed the zoning change.
One opponent objected to the council because members of his church were concerned with Calvary's program "because of rumors."
Another official of a nearby church said he was concerned the program could lead to crimes against children at his church, especially at night.
Still another opponent said Calvary's efforts would duplicate programs already in place at other churches.
It's a common reaction to take a "not in my back yard" attitude toward an outreach program even if it is supposed to help the neighborhood.
It would be good for those who oppose the program to get more information from Rev. Sawyer about the program and how his church members would police the facility. It's possible those against the center might drop their opposition after further discussions.
Acting on facts rather than on rumors is always more productive.