Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jonathan Coppage ― Church Bells and Gospel Choirs Under Gentrification

(The American Conservative)

This story begins with the mundane, the bureaucratic even: a local noise ordinance complaint.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif. recently received a notice from their city’s administration, noting the filing of a complaint claiming that the church’s evening gospel choir practice violated the local nuisance ordinances.

The city’s letter indicated that fines of up to $3500, with $500 more accruing each day, could be imposed upon the church should it prove noncompliant. Oakland church leaders were outraged, and Pleasant Grove Baptist pastor Thomas A. Harris III said, “Kind of hard to believe because we’ve been here about 65 years in the community and all of a sudden we get some concerns about the noise.” Harris and his fellow pastors see this challenge from the Oakland administrative state as just one more intrusion by gentrification. Lawrence Van Hook, the senior pastor at nearby Community Church, said, “We’re being bought out. We’re being moved out. We are being priced out of our own neighborhood” by the influx of well-off tech workers from across the bay in San Francisco.

While West Oakland has indeed seen a surge in home values in recent years, the small case of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church noise complaint may point to a much bigger force at work alongside the raw economics.

Read the full article HERE.