Chattanooga's Mosaic church having difficulty finding a home

Chattanooga's Mosaic church having difficulty finding a home

January 24th, 2012 by Perla Trevizo in News

Mosaic Church which doubles as Club Fathom in Chattanooga.

Club Fathom owner Tim Reid speaks to attendees of a court hearing in this file photo.

Club Fathom owner Tim Reid speaks to attendees...

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

With only a week left in its current building downtown, Mosaic pastor Tim Reid said the church is basically homeless.

"We are totally lost; we don't know where we are going," he said.

The church has been ordered by its landlord to leave the Market Street site by the end of the month following shootings that wounded nine people early on Christmas and the high-profile controversy with police and city officials that followed.

What has happened in the meantime shows the challenge ahead for Mosaic.

Today, mere talk of the church and its youth ministry moving to a particular neighborhood generates concern among those living there.

Pam Emery, president of the Olde Town Brainerd Neighborhood Association, said she got two emails from different residents last week expressing worry about reports that Mosaic planned to move into the 3200 block of Brainerd Road.

Even other houses of worship have been reluctant to open their doors to Mosaic.

Reid said Mosaic is looking for a church to house them while they find a permanent home, but has been unsuccessful.

"We've been in discussions with a lot of churches but all of them are scared to have us there," Reid said. "Most churches fear of associating with us is that the [Littlefield] administration is going to come to their church and shut them down."

"Nonsense," said Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Beeland said the criminal behavior that resulted from some of the events at Mosaic is the main reason why churches and other groups don't want to associate themselves with it.

The Rev. Stephenie Maddox Hill, parish associate at Second Presbyterian Church on Pine Street, said her church would not be open to allowing Mosaic to use its facilities.

"While we welcome all of our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship with us at any time, we would not be open to allowing Mosaic to use our church as an alternative location due to their history of disregard for the law and their use of the title of 'church' to promote activities that are not in the best interest of youth and children. We pray for God's guidance in their future ministry," she said in an email.

Some churches may still be open to the idea, however.

Kristi Strode, executive director of the St. Andrews Center, said Mosaic hasn't approached the faith-based center, but it is open to anyone.

"If the group approached us there would be restrictions," she said. "We would have to maintain a peaceful environment because we have children in here, we have all kinds of programming."

She said part of the St. Andrews mission is to advance spiritual growth in the community.

"I applaud any efforts in trying to share the love of Christ in the community," she said.

upset residents

Upon receiving the emails, Emery, of the Olde Town Brainerd Neighborhood Association, said she contacted the Chattanooga Police Department and her local city representative to find out if Mosaic indeed planned to move there.

She said the neighborhood already has endured several years of shootings and looting with a club that was closed in 2009. Given the history of Mosaic, she said, it wouldn't be beneficial to anyone to see the church move there.

Reid said they haven't looked at any properties in the Brainerd area.

He said worship services will continue downtown this Sunday, but he doesn't know what the church will do afterward.

"We are desperate," he said. "I don't know what we are going to do."

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

Wherever Mosaic decides to relocate, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said he hopes "they can decide which type of business they are going to run."

"If he runs it as a church and they have church events, I don't foresee any problems coming out of that," Dodd said.

"But if he has the 400- and 500-patron concerts as he has had downtown and he doesn't have enough security, staff, and tries to fit in between the regulations of a church, a community outreach program for the youth and a nightclub, we are going to run into the same problems," he added.

Reid said he just wants to have the same rights as all other churches,

"We are not the only church that has youth ministry that holds concerts, dances and events for the young people," he said.

At this point Mosaic will not be as open with its youth outreach, which includes Club Fathom, Reid said.

"We are kind of an underground church," he said. "Once the oppression from this administration is lifted, we will be back in the public square with open arms and welcoming all the young people we had."

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