Leaders Of Mercy Junction Say Battle With Church Of Urth Is Threatening Their Ministry

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leaders of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center said a conflict with a group it rented to is threatening the future of the ministry.

Mercy Junction has been in court trying to evict the Church of Urth from the former church it occupies on Union Avenue in Highland Park.

Ministry leaders said, "You may have read in the newspaper or heard on television or social media about some difficult times at Mercy Junction.

"To make a long story short, Church of Urth joined our community in December, under the guise of being an interfaith ministry. In mid-May, the leader of the group began making frightening Facebook posts that included threats of violence and rape, racism, sexism, antisemitism and heterosexism. Since that time there have been confrontations inside the building, as well as acts of vandalism and theft, and denying other partners access to the property.

"We attempted to refund Church of Urth's entire rent payment for the month of May and asked them to leave the property. They refused. As you know, we normally have Hospitality Hours – those times when the sanctuary is open for anyone needing safe space, when we serve a vegan meal and snacks, and open the free store for those needing toiletries, clothing, household items, etc. – Monday through Friday2 pm to 7 pm. Because of the presence of these men, we felt it was unwise to open our space to the public. Hospitality Hours have been suspended while we work our way through the legal process to evict Church of Urth.

"If Church of Urth doesn't appeal, our attorney will file a “writ of possession” on Friday morning. That filing will allow the local police to forcibly remove Church of Urth from the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center.

"Unfortunately, this protracted situation has done damage to our ministry that will continue long after the eviction takes place. Like us, many of our building partners – their rent being our primary means of financial support – felt it was unsafe to use their spaces. More than half of the building partners, and more than half of our monthly revenue, that we had at the beginning of May is now gone. We have laid off all our of our staff and have taken other measures to decrease expenses during these times.

"To be completely honest with you, we don't know at this time what our future will be. It really depends upon the immediate and long-term support we receive from our friends and community as we work to rebuild what has been destroyed.

"If you are able, we ask you to consider a gift to Mercy Junction today. You can donate:

"We also ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue to move through this difficult process. We will update you as our future becomes more clear."

With gratitude,

The Mercy Junction Council of Elders: Samantha Bayles, Joan Flores, Beth Foster, the Rev. Brian Merritt, Sadie Morgan and Maddie Nix

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