Church On The Hill accounted for two of the agenda items at Guthrie City Council’s special meeting last week.
The church bought a building to use as an office for over $500,000 at 210 W. Oklahoma Ave., and it has had issues with legal usage ever since.
The church originally requested special use permits for that building and a future youth event center at 202 E. Harrison Ave.
James South insisted that the office would only be used for business purposes. However, fears of alcohol laws requiring no business within 300 feet of a church having a liquor license, as well as revenue issues were cited among the reasons the permits were denied.
Pastor Richard Hogue originally said he would sign waivers for these issues, citing that he had done so in the past and had no issues doing it again, but that proved to be unnecessary when the Guthrie City Council denied the permit applications for a second time, but with a new pretense.
There was much discussion on what the best course of action would be moving forward. Ward 2’s Brian Bothroyd and Mayor Steve Gentling participated in the discussion, as well as Ward 3’s Sharyl Padgett, who drew upon her prior experience working for a church and said she was not sure if she believed it is possible to separate religious aspects of a church from its business aspects.
After the discussion, the council agreed that if the office was to be not considered a religious establishment because no religious services or acts would be held there, then there would be no need for the permits. The general census among council members was that if the usage of the sites were to change, it would be dealt with as those problems arose.
South said the plan is for building at 210 W. Oklahoma Ave. to be its permanent main office.
“We’ll never have an office outside of here,” South said. “That’s the only reason we bought the building.”
The Church On The Hill’s main building is under construction currently at 3150 East County Road 74 in Guthrie. This is where services and all other religious activities will be held.
Pastor Hogue said the city council’s decision lifts a weight off the collective shoulders of Church On The Hill.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” Hogue said. “We have such exciting things we want to do in Guthrie, and to see the city council give us the green light is fabulous. Honestly, I don’t know the exact number, but it’s been several months, but we’ve been able to smooth everything out and continue our work.”
Hogue said the next step is to finish construction and begin holding the first services at the church’s new property. As long as no other issues arise, the church should open within the next month.
“The next big step for us is to go ahead open the church,” Hogue said. “So we plan on opening October 4.”