Saugatuck Public Schools addresses concerns over rental agreement with local church

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SAUGATUCK, Mich--  Several concerned residents attended the board meeting for Saugatuck Public Schools on Monday to discuss the district's recent dealings with a local church.

Many parents were upset after learning the district signed a rental agreement with Third Coast Community Church, allowing them to hold their weekend services at the high school. Several residents argued while it's legal, they don't think it's smart.

"Did it not occur to you that it might not be illegal, but it might be in poor judgement? Did it not occur to you that it may not be illegal but maybe I ought to get an opinion," said one parent at Monday's meeting.

Others claim the church is against the LGBTQ community, which has a large presence in the Saugatuck area. The pastor from Third Coast was at Monday's meeting and said that's simply not true.

"One of the misconceptions unfortunately is that we are an anti-gay church group and that's not true. We welcome people from all walks of life and gender orientations to worship with us. We, like a lot of churches, don’t do same gender weddings, but that does not inhabit anyone’s membership within our church," said Pastor Aaron Brown.

"I feel very welcomed there and my family feels very welcomed there," said church member Jennifer Klein, who is a lesbian with a wife and two kids. She said she attended Monday's meeting to help alleviate concerns about the church.

The superintendent of Saugatuck Public Schools says with school budgets lacking everywhere,  the decision to rent out to the church was a business one.

"Any revenue we bring in offsets general funding for programming. So it's a $24,000 rental agreement for the year and that certainly pays for some coaches and extracurricular activities," said superintendent Rolfe Timmerman.

The superintendent is allowed to act on behalf of the school board, so that rental agreement is not illegal. However, the district says it will be looking at its rental policy in the future.

Third Coast Church said they would not be offended if the board went back and discussed a different arrangement with them following Monday's meeting.


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  • ethologist

    To find out more about this church and what they believe, I spent 45 minutes watching this video, by Kevin Pike (pastor of the home church, Ridge Point), on the topic of “What does God think about being gay?” It is an analysis based on Romans Chaps 1 and 2. The basic message is love the sinner, hate the sin. But Pike is very explicit in using Romans to call homosexual behavior “immoral,” “unnatural,” “shameful,” “evil,” etc. He points out that the bible goes on to talk about a host of other bad things people do, including “being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31) Pike says that because we all have flaws and weaknesses, we shouldn’t be judgmental, but should be accepting. But only if people are willing to change. So it actually is NOT a message of acceptance. Acceptance is highly conditional. Furthermore Pike doesn’t point out that evil things like murder and evil and greed are buried in a long list but being homosexual merits two verses of its own, so must be especially bad. Even worse, these sins are subject to “the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death” (KJV; Romans 1:32). This is NOT NOT NOT a message of love. Whether the use of the school as the church is constitutional, it is highly divisive and deeply antagonistc toward a community as loving and accepting as Saugatuck.

    • Kevin Rahe

      It is certainly a challenge for pastors to make it clear that they accept someone as a person without signaling acceptance of things that person might be doing that are contrary to nature and God’s law, especially when the person’s whole life is immersed in those things and they perceive them as a good. It is much easier to accommodate someone who admits with contrition that they’ve engaged in unnatural acts or relationships but that above all they seek God’s mercy and forgiveness and want to please Him.

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