Silent service: Church fined hundreds of dollars for loud services

Posted at 8:24 AM, Dec 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-06 08:24:51-05

COLUMBIA, SC (WTVR) - A Columbia church is being ordered to pay fines for violating the city's noise ordinance.

Police have responded to the Rehoboth United Assemblies Church on Laurel Street more than 10 times. Neighbors complained and called police saying the congregation is too loud.

Wednesday a Columbia court found the church in violation of 3 noise ordinance citations. They'll have to pay a $740 fine.

"I am sorry we don't worship the Lord quietly and that is everyone's preference how you worship the Lord. We just happen to be a pentecostal apostlic church and our praise is very vocal to the Lord," Apostle Johnnie Clark said. He thinks his church isn't doing anything wrong.

On several occasions, more than 10 times, Columbia police have been called to the church. Sometimes four officers at a time.

But neighbors Sheri Callahn and Tim Ellis say they can hear the churches services inside their home. They even recorded the service to show police what it sounds like.

Clark says the police calls have gotten out of hand. During their Thanksgiving service at 9 a.m. officers were called to the church.

"40 minutes into our service, we started at 9 a.m. the police was called, they came over and said we were disturbing the neighbor," Apostle Clark says.

He's tried to work with neighbors, "I don't think we should not have to compromise our form of worship because the city zoning allowed them to build a house this close to the church."

Callahan and Ellis say this is not a religion issue. Its about the church not caring about their neighbors and being respectful.