BREWER, Maine (NEWS CENTER)--The final items of The Rock Church in Brewer are stacked up and ready to be moved. The church is moving from the Brewer location because it was denied a permit to expand the space it is leasing.
According to the lead pastor at The Rock Church Kirk Winters, the church is moving to its location in Bangor. He said the move is bitter sweet and he enjoyed his time at the Brewer location.
"The biggest plus for us here in Brewer was to change lives. We had a lot of families come to the church and find the lord as a result of being here and so we're gonna miss that," Winters said.
According to Winters the church is leaving because the congregation is growing and the church wanted to expand. When it tried to take out a permit to expand the space it is leasing, it was denied the permit by the City of Brewer.
Winters thinks the denial of the permit violates the churches rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. He feels the equal terms part of the act was violated by the city. The equal terms part of the act states: No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.
But Brewer Code Enforcement Officer Benjamin Breadmore said he did not give the church the permit because of the Land Use code that is already in place for the City of Brewer. Breadmore said the church was located in a convenience business zone and the church could have appealed his decision.
"The pastor and the church are more than welcome to take my decision to the board of appeals. They will hear the whole story from both side, take it forward from there," Breadmore said.
Instead of challenging the decision, Winters said it is easier for the church to move to its Bangor location. Even though the church is moving to Bangor, Winters is nervous some members might leave because of the move.
"Definitely concerned about the potential of losing some folks because we're moving. I hope not, but I guess it's a possibility that we have to face," Winters said.
A chance that Winters will take when the Brewer and Bangor churches combine for its first service together on March 31.