Freedom and Reconciliation for King’s Tabernacle in Johnston, RI

(Johnston, R.I.—February 28, 2016) We are delighted to report that on February 28, 2016, King’s Tabernacle Church is free to worship at their new location in Johnston, Rhode Island. The worship service pictured above was the church’s first meeting in nearly a year in the 124 year old church building which had been purchased from the Belknap Community Church. When King’s Tabernacle acquired the property in April of 2015, the town would not allow the predominantly African-American congregation to meet at the property without a “special use permit.” Even though the quintessential church building had been used for religious assemblies for over a century, Johnston’s Zoning Board of Review voted unanimously in June 2015 to deny the church zoning. After then suffering months of delay and discouragement, the Church contacted Mauck & Baker at the beginning of the year and by January 25, 2016, a federal lawsuit was on file in the United States District Court of Rhode Island.

As a result of the lawsuit, the prayers of many, and the Court’s prompt attention, the case was resolved on February 25, 2016—a mere thirty days after the suit was filed—freeing the church up to worship at the building. The successful settlement conference ended with Pastor Chris Abhulime leading a tour of the property with the Johnston mayor, the Chief Judge, and the attorneys for both sides. The settlement not only secured what the church wanted but also provided a context in which Pastor Chris was able to reconcile with town officials and make a public statement about the importance of forgiveness.

“It was an honor to serve such an incredible congregation and work with a man of God like Pastor Chris” said attorney Noel W. Sterett. “I’m certain King’s Tabernacle will continue to be a blessing to Johnston.” 

Listen below to our podcast on this case:

The congregation standing in front of King's Tabernacle Church's new building.

Pastor Chris Abhulime

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