Church faces closure after council bans ‘noisy’ hymns

Another church could be forced to close after a local council said that the hymns were too loud. It is the second such case to hit the headlines in the last few days.

The congregation will now struggle to hear the music and the sermon at All Nations Centre in Kennington, South London, after Lambeth Council told the church that they couldn’t amplify sound.

The 600 strong pentecostal church is the second example in recent days of a church being gagged by a local council in response to noise complaints.

The first church, Immanuel International Christian Centre in North London, saw its congregation dwindle from 100 worshippers to just 30 after Waltham Forest Council effectively silenced it. The council had received just one complaint from a Muslim neighbour.

Leaders at All Nations fear the same will happen to them and are appealing the Council’s decision.

They argue that the Council has no good reason to restrict noise and are baffled by the decision.

“The complaint against us has nothing to do with noise and everything to do with our faith,” said 43-year-old Victor Jibuike, a pastor at All Nations.

“It feels as if they’re trying to harrass us and drive us out”, he added.

The church has been meeting at the All Nations Centre since the 1960s and Pastor Jibuike said they have never received a complaint about noise.

The church leaders said they began to notice opposition when it emerged they were making plans to turn a local disused school into a community centre.

A Lambeth Council official visited the church in June to investigate the sound but they did not hear anything again from the Council until last month when the ban was introduced without warning.

Pastor Jibuike said: “We are horrified at the implications of this order which means people will no longer be able to worship”.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, who are backing the case, said that the church had had no complaints in the past and had served the community well.

“I fear the real issue behind this complaint is hostility to the Christian message, and the law is being used as a pretext to harass and silence Christian viewpoints not approved of by the State.”

Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, is representing the church in its appeal against the Council’s ban.

Mr Diamond was responsible for advising Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for praying for a patient then reinstated.

A spokesman for Lambeth Council said: “We only use this kind of enforcement as a last resort. We have received numerous complaints from local residents about the level of amplified noise and arranged several meetings with the centre to discuss a solution, but unfortunately the problem has continued so we have had to serve a noise abatement notice.”

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