Worship in Home Forbidden

By Wayne Sullivan

In December 1993 a small group of people began meeting for worship in Crestview, Florida. The church is meeting in the home of Greg and Cindi Smith and is known as the Live Oak Church of Christ. The attendance for the first worship service was around ten, but they now have about thirty in the group. The brethren have been unable to find another place for worship. All the places available have been either unsuitable or too expensive.

On January 22,1996 the Smiths received a letter from an attorney who represents the developer of the subdivision where they live. The attorney said they had thirty days to cease using their house as a place where the church could meet for worship services. The attorney said the covenant for the subdivision did not allow them to use their house in this way. The covenant does say that one’s residence could not be used for commercial or business purposes, but there is nothing in it that would forbid worship services in the home. I might should add that two neighbors, who attended the services for awhile, are also involved in this action against Cindi and Greg.

Upon receiving the letter from the attorney, Greg and Cindi immediately contacted the mayor, the chief of police, and other city officials about this situation and none of them found fault with what they were doing. There was no violation of a city ordinance or any law so far as the city officials were concerned. One of the city officials suggested they contact a man in Crestview who might be able to help them with this matter. This man proved to be very helpful for he put them in touch with a man in Ft. Walton Beach who has a religious television program on Channel 12. This gentleman called the law office of the American Center For Law And Justice to see if they would get involved with this case. They not only agreed to get involved, but are doing so without any financial cost to Greg and Cindi. The attorneys from the American Center For Law And Justice are in contact with the developer’s attorney and we hope this can be settled out of court.

Cindi said that a reporter from the Daily News visited the services and then wrote an article which made the front page of the paper. As a result of the article and a television program, Greg and Cindi have received a number of calls from local people who say they support them in their right to have the worship services in their house.

Brethren, think about the implication involved in this matter. If this small group can be kept from meeting in the Smith’s house for worship, could you be kept from having one or two people into your house for Bible study? Where would the stopping place be? Remember that our country was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

Greg and Cindi are not asking for financial help in this matter, but they do ask for your prayers on their behalf. You may want to write or call Greg and Cindi to encourage them in their efforts to use their house as a temporary meeting place for the church. The church which meets in their house is in need of your prayers and encouragement. The address is: 166 Nun Drive, Crestview, FL 32536. The phone number is: 904-682-4461.

Cindi Smith is the daughter of Wayne and Lucille Sullivan of Orlando, Florida.

Guardian of Truth XL: 10 p. 15
May 16, 1996