Year in Review: Law Achievements of 2016

We are grateful for the fruitful labor God commissioned us with in 2016. Join us as we take a look at our year in review and prayerfully pursue God's glory in the legal work yet to come! 

Living Spring International Church v. Midlothian, IL

In March 2016, Mauck & Baker filed suit on behalf of Living Spring International Church against the Village of Midlothian to protect the Church’s right to worship at its building located 4645 147th Street. After dragging the Church through a nearly year-long permit process, the Village Board voted to deny the Church’s a zoning permit on February 24, 2016. Following the Village’s February 24 decision, several Village Trustees told the press that they couldn’t approve the Church’s request because the building wasn’t “very church-like.” Within three weeks of filing, Mauck & Baker secured an order freeing the church to worship and obtained a settlement that provided for compensation to the Church and payment of attorneys’ fees.

Pastors Protecting Youth

At the start of 2016 the Youth Mental Health Protection Act went into effect. An association of Illinois pastors filed a Federal lawsuit against the state in response to this law, which restricts a minor from making the personal choice to receive counseling for unwanted same-sex attraction. Similar laws are popping up across the country and we view the filing of this lawsuit as an opportunity to protect pastors’ free speech, minors’ rights, and Biblical values on sexuality.

King’s Tabernacle v. Town of Johnston, R.I.

In 2015, King's Tabernacle bought the 125-year-old Belknap Chapel, but the town refused to issue a zoning permit to use it after a lengthy and acrimonious zoning process. Pastor Chris Abhulime believed that they were denied because of the color of their skin. In fact, after Mauck & Baker filed suit in late January 2016, attorney Noel Sterett received an anonymous letter which read:

"The reason why the Reverend [sic] is having a difficult time in Johnston RI is obvious. We don't want any more worthless, drains on society, ill-mannered, disrespectful [N words] in this town..." Thankfully, by the grace of God, Mauck & Baker secured a settlement which had the Church up and running within a month of filing suit and required the town to compensate the Church and pay all of its attorneys’ fees.

Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford Injunction

In December 2016, Mauck & Baker assisted the Alliance Defending Freedom in securing an injunction prohibiting the state of Illinois from requiring the Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford and a few other pro-life medical professionals to provide referrals to patients to abortionists and speak of the “benefits” of abortion. The State has sought to enforce SB 1564 against crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life medical professionals in a deliberate effort to force pregnancy centers to bend the knee and succumb to the demands of pro-abortionists. This injunction, which protects the plaintiffs from the new law’s enforcement for the time being, is a praiseworthy step but not the end of this battle.

Illinois Bible Colleges Oral Argument

The Illinois Bible College Association now awaits a court decision which could come in 5 days or 5 months. Attorney John W. Mauck presented oral argument to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on December 7, 2016. The judges acknowledged the strong argument our clients have and the state of Illinois presented strong rebuttal. Please pray for these Bible colleges, students, and administration as we await a response from the judges.

Jesus House: lawsuit avoided

Last spring, Jesus House, an aftercare and restorative ministry of the Jesus Inside Prison Ministry, was facing rezoning issues with the city of Indianapolis. Mauck & Baker attorney Sorin Leahu helped the nonprofit avoid a lawsuit by drafting a federal complaint and alerting the City to the Ministry’s constitutional rights. After seeing a draft of the complaint, the City agreed to rezone the property and permit the Ministry’s use.

Freedom to Believe

During 2016 attorney Whit Brisky at Mauck & Baker helped two Presbyterian churches in Blackhawk Presbytery and two in Chicago Presbytery leave the Presbyterian Church USA for other reformed denominations, all on a peaceful basis and without litigation. We also helped one Reformed Church in American congregation leave that denomination and move to the Presbyterian Church in America, also without litigation.

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