A Church Finally Allowed to Worship

Mauck & Baker's client, Christian Fellowship Centers of New York (CFC) received a favorable ruling in the nick of time. Over the past several months CFC has faced hostility from many members of the town as well as religious discrimination from Village of Canton officials who refused to permit the church to use its recently purchased building as a place of worship.

CFC had been renting from various facilities in Canton in order to hold services each week, but had nowhere to meet on March 31. As a result, church officials had cancelled service for the date.

However, on March 29, the United States District Court of the Northern District of New York issued a decision in favor of Christian Fellowship Center its case against the Village of Canton. This ruling granted CFC the permission to use its property at 25 Court Street as a place of worship, and stated that the Village is prohibited from preventing such activity, effective immediately.

Services were thus uncancelled and church officials did their best to spread the word. Due to such short notice though, Pastor Jamie thought maybe only a few people would turn out. As you can see from these photos, their expectations were joyfully exceeded! People were excited for the ability to finally praise God in their new church home.

“We are thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness through all this, we are thankful for our constitutional freedoms as Americans, and we are thankful to Judge Kahn for his excellent and speedily rendered decision. Moving forward, CFC Canton is excited to publicly worship Jesus in our building and continue serving our community,” said Pastor Jamie Sinclair.

John Mauck, attorney for CFC said, “Judge Lawrence E. Kahn has issued a 28-page learned opinion that shows the courts diligence concerning civil liberties and recognizes the liberty of Christian Fellowship Center to worship at 25 Court Street in Canton. We hope that this strong ruling will benefit not just religious liberty, but civil liberties throughout northern New York.”

As stated in the Judge’s ruling, “Since the Village created what it now ‘purports to be a pure commercial district’ but in fact ‘allow[ed] other uses’—nearly every other type of non-commercial secular assembly—in the same zone, this case is an ‘easy victory’ for the Church under any test.”

Earlier in the week the United States Department of Justice issued a Statement of Interest in the case, citing the strength of the Church’s arguments. The DOJ also recommended the Court rule in CFC’s favor, an encouraging push due to the urgency of the case.

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