Fisherman of Men Church Fights for Religious Freedom in Washington, DC

by: 

CA Staff
Sep 25, 2012
Fisherman of Men Church Logo

Editor's Note: Here's a new twist on how to effectively tie the hands of churches through political maneuverings that parallels what has been going on in Wine Country. While I am all for historic preservation, there are facts submitted here that I find disturbing.

Bishop Clarence Groover, Pastor and Founder of the Fisherman of Men Church (FOMC) located at 3641 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington DC, vows to continue to fight historic designation of the church, which is not in a Historic District. A press conference scheduled on Thursday, September 27, 2012, 10:30am at the Fisherman of Men Church will discuss the hearing that has been postponed indefinitely by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HRPB). In view of this action by the HPRB, all individuals who had planned to attend the hearing at the HPRB on this date are strongly encouraged to join us at the press conference.

The challenge of designation began when one Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) from the District of Columbia prepared and submitted an application to the DC HPRB to designate the Fisherman of Men Church building as a Historic Landmark. The Historic Landmark Application #12-06 was submitted to the District of Columbia Office of Planning. This application was completed without the courtesy of any coordination or communication with the Bishop Groover or with any member of the Church. Once informed by the HPRB, the Church had only thirty days to respond to this application and very little time to prepare, draft and file an appropriate response before the board.

Such Historic Landmark designation imposes substantial regulatory and financial burdens on Fisherman's and, by consequence, imposes unwanted, unnecessary, and unconstitutional (in regards to the Church’s property rights in accordance with the Religious Land Use Act) burdens on the religious freedom of the Church and its congregation. Specifically, the unwanted proposed Historic Landmark designation presents frustrating and unproductive impediments to planned physical improvements already underway at the Church. As said by Bishop Groover, “God ordained the Church for the perfection of the human race, and it must not be hindered in this Godly charge.”

While preparing for a scheduled hearing on September 27, 2012, Bishop Groover was informed that the hearing had been postponed indefinitely. He believes postponing this matter wrongly holds the Church hostage--meaning that the Church renovations will be at the mercy of the HPRB without the hearing of the Church’s objection. It makes it impossible for the church to obtain additional building, construction and zoning permits for additional improvements. This is no small matter, since another case involving another church was postponed for sixteen years. Moreover, this action is unconscionable because it delays and frustrates our ability to make clear our position in opposition known to the HPRB.

As Bishop Groover and the congregants are confronted with another roadblock in the final phase of the church renovation, he is optimistic. After losing three of his own children in a six-year period, Groover persevered to complete the beautification of the community worship center. Groover, 73 years of age, has spent a large amount of his life and the finances of the Church to ensure the safety, growth and development of the FOMC as a welcoming facility and place of worship.

The Church has occupied its current location for 35 years and has taken an old deteriorated building that would otherwise be unoccupied or perhaps demolished by now, and renovated and modernized it to comply with current building codes to include electrical, plumbing, HVAC, structural, roofs, fire, stairs, baptismal pool, kitchen, food services, disabled provisions and doors.

All citizens of the District of Columbia and others who share our vision and our belief in the sanctity of our Church or that of any church to exercise religious freedom without any undue harassment or official governmental misconduct are welcome and strongly encouraged to join with us for this important press conference on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 10:30am at the Fisherman of Men Church.

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