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MAKING PEACE IN A WAR ZONE

The persistent creativity required to find a place to worship.

Easter 1987 was fast approaching, when we would hold our church's first service. With eight other adults, we were planting a church where no Protestant church had been started for more than 125 years. The community had grown considerably since then. Surely it would see the need for another congregation.

One week before Easter, everything seemed in place. Our 23,000 hand-addressed invitations had reached everyone's mailbox, announcing our service times and location. We had rented a room in a beautifully restored, forty-four-room mansion now serving as an office complex. It had not yet opened to the general public; curiosity alone would bring people to such a unique setting.

Then the mayor called: "Our zoning laws do not permit a church to meet in that building."

A certified letter the next day warned, "You'll have to cancel your services and meet elsewhere or be fined $5,000 for every week you violate the zoning laws." The office complex we were so excited about now wore our not-to-be-removed ...

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