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EASING TENSIONS WITH CHURCH NEIGHBORS

Can loving your neighbor apply to those next door to the church?

When the Baker family moved to the outskirts of town twenty years ago, they intended to escape the roar of the greased streets and the smell of the crowd. They happily exchanged a teeming suburban neighborhood for a two-acre parcel hemmed by walnut trees and a creek.

For eight years their oasis of obscurity remained unthreatened. But then a rapidly growing bedroom community began its inevitable crawl in their direction. Housing developments sprouted everywhere. A ten-thousand-seat outdoor concert theater was constructed half a mile from their door. So although unwelcomed, the news that the five-acre plot next door had sold wasn't unexpected.

The problem was, a church-our church-had purchased it. The Bakers, like many property owners today, feel that churches make poor neighbors.

Growing Discontent

"Not a church," the Bakers protested. "Anything but a church!" As later we'd discover, Mrs. Baker had attended church as a child, but in adolescence had grown embittered. Whenever a spiritual topic ...

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