Church sign beggars belief
I FEEL somewhat aggrieved. Several weeks ago you kindly printed an apology on my behalf to the Exclusive Brethren "Church" in Brest Road.
I had previously questioned their claim to be a "Registered Public Place of Worship" on the grounds that in practice they do not allow the public to just walk in to one of their services.
My apology was based on the fact that one of their priests, Hugh Liesching, recently assured me that they do have in fact a service at 5pm every Sunday, which is open to any member of the public.
The other day I walked down to their "Public Place of Worship" with my camera, and looked closely at their notice board, and I was sadly disillusioned. Their notice board reads, "All WELL DISPOSED PERSONS are welcome... Please contact one of the telephone numbers above to confirm time and available seats". So the time itself is not regular or fixed?
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This in my view is misleading. No other "Registered Place of Public Worship" lays down such terms for attending a service. The time of the service itself begs a few questions. 5pm is for most people tea time, and very inconvenient, and in any case, anyone wishing to attend must first phone one of their trustees to confirm that the service is on, and to ensure a seat.
I understand that the "Church" seats about 500 people, and whilst they may get such a number when they hold a special conference; their normal church attendance is in the region of about 150. So why the need to phone to ensure a seat!
Then again, the invitation is only to people who are "well disposed". So it begs the question, who decides if some one wishing to attend a service is well disposed or not? I do not know of any other "Registered Place of Public Worship" that lays down such a condition. Surely Jesus came not to "Call the well disposed, but sinners to repentance". Matthew 9. 13.
So again it begs the question, Is this "Church" a public place of worship and if it isn't, can they claim certain tax and rates exemptions as a public place of worship?
Given the hurdles folk have to jump in order to attend a service at this public place of worship, why should Joe Public subsidise this group?
So I'm afraid in the circumstances I wish to withdraw my apology, made several weeks ago.
JOHN J JONES