Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Celebration Church Cited by City of Jacksonville for Violation of Noise Pollution Ordinance

"This will be our final comment on the matter."  Celebration Church's response to citizens' complaints about excessive noise levels coming from the church.
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Looks like Celebration Church has NOT made their final comment on the matter of their noisy worship services bothering the neighbors.

Stovall Weems and Celebration Church can no longer simply ignore the concerns of the residents of the Sweetwater subdivision over the noise pollution coming from their church.

This week Celebration Church received a "Notice to Correct" citation from the City of Jacksonville's Environmental Quality Division, for being in violation of the "Noise Polllution Control" regulations. The story here from First Coast News says that this past Sunday the city took noise level measurements and found "octave band violations" - meaning for certain sound frequencies the church exceeded the decibel levels allowed by the city. The church has until May 13th to correct these violations.

How sad - a church is in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of their city - and they refused to take action at the request of their neighbors, requiring the city resources to have to be spent to force them to take real corrective action.

I want to say congratulations to the citizens of Sweetwater. They did the right thing. They tried to handle this directly with the church over a span of about 6 months. They wrote letters requesting action by the church, and received little response or action from the church. The church's written reply to the citizens - prior to the city's EQD becoming involved - said in part:
"We are sincerely sorry if our services or events have disturbed any of our neighbors. At Celebration Church, we seek to serve and add value to our community. We have worked hard to incorporate exterior noise reduction into the design of our campus on RG Skinner Parkway. With these efforts, even the highest volume levels inside the sanctuary are minimized to a level that is barely audible outside the building.....This will be our final comment on this matter. Thank you so much for your inquiry."
How arrogant. "This will be our final comment on this matter." they said. Not so fast, Stovall and Celebration Church. It absolutely will not be your final comment. You might be able to ignore the citizens' complaints and say that your music is "barely audible", but the city doesn't agree, and they are dealing with engineering measurements, not your opinion. In fact they found you in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of the city.

Stovall and CC, we hope you are more responsive to the City of Jacksonville officials than you were to either the citizens of Sweetwater, or to First Coast News, who you refused to grant an interview to discuss the citizens' concerns. You could have answered this question months ago: did you hire an engineering company to take octave decibel readings at the perimeter of your property during services to prove you were in compliance? If so, you could have provided that to the citizens, or to First Coast News.

It is quite sad that a church couldn't handle this themselves, without the city having to spend its resources to discover octave band violations. The church could have detected these violations - or just heard the neighbors concerns and they could've tone down the music accordingly. I've been in the church before, and it is the loudest noise I have ever heard as it actually vibrated by innards - and I've been to my share of indoor rock concerts. There is plenty of room for their music levels to be reduced.

Last night the Twitter account of Celebration Church posted this Tweet:


Yes, the Watchdog and the citizens of Sweetwater have a prayer request, Celebration Church pastors and prayer teams. We hope your pastors will pray that your noise levels will be in compliance with city code next Sunday during worship.

Here is the prayer that you can pray, Celebration:
"Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that this Sunday when the EQD takes more sound measurements, that we will be below 75 decibel levels on the octave ranges of 31.5 Hz, 63 Hz, and 125 Hz, and 250 Hz, when our cool bass player and drummer is the loudest - so that we don't have to pay any fines for our violations."

Or better yet - don't pray. Just turn down the dang amplifiers. God can hear your praise just fine at 50 dB.

Amen.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why is it that these mega-churches must be forced by law suits and fines to do what any normal/moral person would do of their own accord?

Victorious said...

Thank you for the follow-up, watchdog. The real tragedy here is that the church seems to think the city ordinances don't apply to them.

Mark said...

"How arrogant. 'This will be our final comment on this matter.'"

My thoughts exactly. Sounds like Celebration Church is asking “And who is my neighbor?”

I am glad they got cited.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the comments on Jacksonville's Channel 12's story about the church and wondered was amazed at the amount of people who thought it was okay for the church to disrupt people inside their homes....

WishIhadknown said...

Prov 27:47 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

Anonymous said...

Great to see the writer of this looking in to the Lords word! I think some of it is out of context. I think Celebration Church will ultimately correct this issue. Hopefully others will learn about Celebration and listen to Stovall preach.

Moses Model said...

When I was an audio tech, we had some concern with a worship leader who liked his music louder around 100-110 decibels. Anything about 85-95 db can cause permanent hearing loss with sufficient exposure. OSHA recommends two hours or less of daily exposure once you get over 100 db. The service was about an hour and a half to two hours. Eventually, someone had to put their foot down and say that we had to dial it down not only for the safety of our ears, but also the congregation.

Anyways I say all that to say that audio levels are often the last thing that people worry about at a worship service. (We used to have a random knob on the board that we would turn whenever we had noise complaints)It is sad that the church let it go this far, but now that local government is involved, I am sure they will fix the problem. Then the fire marshal will come by...

Anonymous said...

Our family has been members for 10+ years at one of the largest churches in Jax. For roughly the same time I have been servicing businesses and dealing with inspectors. If/when a business sticks its thumb in the eye of local government officials all %#* breaks loose from every department as "word" spreads...regardless of the tax revenue implications of the business shut down! Unless-of course you are a church that HAPPENS to have Gov officials as Deacons!
It used to be a great opener/ witness/ credibility statement/ or just a common local interest to say "yea...I go to so and so church :))" NOW you have to hope they dont ask?!? REALLY The truth is -The Public is not stupid just tired of this special priviledge crap. If the Lord is in it then run your church/business by the same rules/regulations the other local businesses have to! THEN when GOD blesses your church you have a Visible/Undeniable/Big/Tangible/Etc something to shout to the public about VS "We leave feeling good about the loud music or dynamic speaker or whatever." Until then the public dont care cause they know the gig.

Anonymous said...

If the anointing and presence of God is in a church, loud music is not needed. If it is not, the loud music serves to overwhelm the senses and be a poor substitute for the Holy Spirit or drown out the still small voice of God to the individual worshiper.

Anonymous said...

The church's response of "...This will be our final comment..." to their neighbors should come as NO surprise whatsoever!

And their response to the news channel request for an interview "....not available for 2 weeks..." should come as NO surprise whatsoever as well!!

Stovall Weems, like Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Mark Driscoll, et al, is the definition of arrogance and hence the church staff is operating as they are taught. Plain and simple!!!

Anonymous said...

Some of the mega-churches could learn a lesson from Kitchen Nightmares.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2013/05/14/lessons-from-amys-baking-company-six-things-you-should-never-do-on-social-media/

Anonymous said...

One benefit in the future may be that those attending will not be able to hear the junk preached there.

Plus, on the business side, it will be a boon to the audiologists and ear doctors of Jacksonville.

Suffer not the fools too long, though.

Anonymous said...

wow, such hate and jealousy flow from such mean ppl... "the junk preached there"? And how many sermons have you personally listened to from Celebration?

Joshua Holloway said...

Please read my story: my name is Joshua and I'm new to Christianity, I was a gang member for several years. Sunday night I threw all of my drugs away and destroyed my scales. I prayed and asked God to help me because I don't know anything about Christianity. I contacted this church amongst others and begged for help. I was transferred from one person to another and was told I would be helped. I was so excited here people finally care. I was told to wait at the hotel I checked out of, so I did. That was at 10am. They said they would bring me to the church and sit with me and talk. Nobody came. I kept calling and they said they can't help me. Why did I sit for seven hours if they weren't coming. I walked my girlfriend down JTB in the rain to her job and waited. I contacted them and asked what I did wrong and pleaded for help. Finally one of the men that works there said I will come help you get a hotel. When he arrived he was just cold. He brought a officer with him, I was treated like a criminal. They said you have to have a credit card to rent a room. So he said"I guess your good". As he left I tried to talk to him and he said he has nothing to say to me. He wouldn't even pray with me. I called the church and they prayed over the phone. Now I'm sleeping outside in the cold rain. I don't know much about the Bible, but this really made me hesitant. I just feel so disappointed and confused.

Anonymous said...

joshua, I have gone to celebration for about a year and I have had nothing but good experiences..im sorry to hear about how u were treated. If u still need help. post back...sherri

Anonymous said...

I was a member of this church for several years until I became disillusioned and left. Stovall Weems runs the church like a dictator. There is no input allowed from anyone. Everything about the church, including how much he pays himself, is his decision and his decision only. When he came to Jacksonville he drove an old used Honda Accord. He recently bought himself a beautiful new home in Queens Harbor. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

Awesome preacher!! Awesome church! Maybe the loud music is Gods way over entering some local homes. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Shannon Thorp said...

Most of the noise complaints are from the Riot nights, which is the youth program offered on Wednesday nights for middle and high school students. God forbid that Celebration Church wants to reach out the children of the community in a way that they relate to nowadays...with MUSIC. It's not terribly late, or early, and isn't any louder than a neighbor with sub's in their car or house, bumping to the beat. I've been a member of the church for four years, and they saved me and my family after the devastating loss of my husband. They spend more money on events and outreaches here, and campuses all over the world that any other church here. I personally am an outreach leader for an outreach, and I see the good they do in people's lives on a daily basis. It's sad that people target this church, it's one of the only places I know that is so diverse, everyone feels welcome, old/young, tattoos? No one cares. Broke/rich, no judgment. The only people who target churches like this are the ones that need to go the most because they're obviously lacking love and understanding in their lives. It's a life giving church, what have YOU done lately for your community? Glass houses...

Anonymous said...

That is the sound of freedom my friends :)

Anonymous said...

You really think no one in that entire neighborhood already goes to a church of their own choosing? It's not a mysterious plan by God, its a church using their expensive sound system irresponsibly and not caring about the people outside of it.

Anonymous said...

But why does he live so extravagantly? I mean idk... but I have hard time with any preacher or pastor living in house or lifestyle over a dr. They are suppose to be doing what they are doing for God and setting an example I think they should live reasonably modest, among middle class no matter size of congregation to set example and help us to know priorities are straight.