One of the most meaningful relationships that I have developed over the past six months is that with Rev. Carl Mazza. Carl was one of the other candidates for Moderator and, in my opinion, one of the most genuine and faithful people I know. Meeting Ground, the ministry that he and his wife started decades ago serves the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of so many that would otherwise be left out.
I had heard a little bit about the struggle Meeting Ground had been having with the town of Elkton’s board, but apparently is has escalated with the filing of this lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of Meeting Ground.
Excerpts from the ACLU Meeting Ground Suit Page:
Defending the fundamental right to religious liberty guaranteed by the
U.S. Constitution, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has
filed suit on behalf of the Meeting Ground, a church dedicated to
serving the homeless, and its pastor, Reverend Carl Mazza, whose
efforts to open a day center for homeless individuals as part of their
religious mission has been wrongfully blocked by the Town of Elkton.
The case, which was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in
Baltimore, contends that the Town’s actions deprive the Meeting Ground
and its members of their rights to freely exercise their religious
faith under the U.S. Constitution and under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
“It is unfortunate that things have come to this,” said Rev. Carl[Complaint PDF]
Mazza. “We tried as hard as we could to do our ministry at 401 North
Street, even offering to do only those things that were clearly work of
the church, such as prayer meetings, Bible Study, and Worship services.
But the town refused to consider even these activities, and left us
with no possible way we could use the building for any purpose. What we
are seeking to do is the true work of the Church of Jesus Christ, and
we only ask the town to recognize this, and respect our zeal to share
the Gospel. No one can be denied the right to witness to the living
Jesus in word and deed, especially with and among persons who are poor,
destitute, and homeless.”
Now I am not legal expert, but I trust Carl and what he has done to further the cause of Christ in the world. I am not sure what any of us can do at this point, but at the very least we can pray for the community and for Carl.