$950,000 is extreme

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The zoning for churches issue came to a head Monday just before noon with a 6-3 vote from the county commission in favor of the hotly debated amendment.

The amendment, which churches in zoned, unincorporated areas of Shelby County must now follow, calls for building and renovation approval by the Planning Commission based on meeting the commission’s requirements including that of a public hearing.

This issue has pitted church against neighbor and neighbor against church.

Surely, however, now that it is settled, the two factions can work together to develop solutions instead of solely illuminating the problems.

We urge all the parties involved find a way to solve problems in a manner befitting Shelby County.

And, then we urge all of Shelby County to move on and take notice of some of the other events that have taken place in our county while we have been wrapped up in zoning.

The First Baptist Church of Columbiana must now pay $950,000 in damages to the family of a teenager who was killed on a mission trip.

That’s right &045; $950,000.

A Baldwin County jury ruled last week that the family was entitled to the extreme amount of money from the church.

What a travesty. And what a dangerous precedent to set when a jury places blame for what amounts to a terrible, tragic accident.

Churches clearly do not have bank accounts with almost $1 million in them. Yet they face daily liabilities that are unavoidable if they seek to be an active, growing congregation.

First Baptist has learned many lessons from this episode, not the least of which is to always be extra careful.

But as the pastor said, the church will not allow this setback to prohibit them from &uot;doing the Lord’s work.&uot;