Making a loud noise unto the Lord Anne Arundel County: Brooklyn Park at odds with newest neighbor, a church.

November 18, 1997

WHAT'S WRONG WITH this picture? A neighborhood is up in arms because a church has taken over an long-abandoned, graffiti-covered bingo hall. The church, for its part, is telling its parishioners that neighbors complaining about its loud music are tools of Satan. If an artist were to paint this picture, it would have be done in a surrealistic style.

When the Church of the Rock, an independent Protestant congregation, bought the former Forty-Niner Bingo Hall in Brooklyn Park, things should have been looking up for the hard-pressed neighborhood at the Anne Arundel County-Baltimore City line. The vacant building had been a eyesore for years.

Whatever goodwill the residents may have had for the church seems to have quickly evaporated after the congregation held a week-long revival a month ago to celebrate its new purchase. Apparently, the ruckus generated by enthusiastic worshipers disrupted the immediate neighbors, as well as some a mile away. Police responded to several complaints about excessive noise, but neighbors said the racket persisted once the officers left.

The church initially responded to the complaints by attacking the neighbors, accusing them of being anti-Christian. To his credit, the Rev. John Krach Jr. realized that hurling such sulfurous charges at his new neighbors was a mistake. The following week, he walked through the neighborhood and apologized.

Relations between the church and the neighborhood remain strained. Residents are deeply suspicious. They fear that the church will embark on a crusade to close neighborhood liquor stores and bars and open a homeless shelter. They also fear the church will aggressively proselytize in the neighborhood.

Respect is basic to being good neighbors. Some mediation is obviously needed between the church and the neighborhood. The Arundel Improvement Association can organize a meeting for both sides to sit down in a non-confrontational setting and voice their concerns.

Perhaps the church can turn down the volume on its amplifiers. Perhaps the community can be more accepting of a congregation that may worship differently than it is used to. They can all follow the Biblical admonition to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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