University of Mississippi Medical Center Abruptly Cancels Church’s Easter Service

Pastor Roderick Richardson
Pastor Roderick Richardson

Easter Sunday is sort of like the Super Bowl for preachers.

It’s all but guaranteed the pews will be packed and that presented a challenge to Roderick Richardson, the pastor of The Word Center Church in Jackson, Mississippi.

The nondenominational church has a membership of about 1,200 people—but only 275 can fit in the sanctuary. And the preacher estimated they could have as many as 1,500 people show up for Easter Sunday.

So last January Pastor Richardson started scouting out a new location for his growing church. And it wasn’t long before he found a solution—a conference center run by the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

He signed a contract to rent the space on Jan. 27. On March 27, the university abruptly canceled the contract and told the church they would not be allowed to use their facility.

“It was a week and two days before the largest service of the year,” Pastor Richardson told me. “They told me the climate at UMMC was not conducive for us to have a service at the facility.”

The climate was not conducive?

“They were afraid IHL might come and say something about a church having a service (in their facility),” the pastor said. IHL is also known as the State Institutions of Higher Learning, the agency that oversees Mississippi’s eight public institutions of higher learning.

“We’re not angry at them because we are Christians,” the pastor said. “We’re just a little frustrated that this particular institution did not keep its word.”

Marc Rolph, a spokesman for UMMC, confirmed they canceled the church’s contract—a week and two days before Easter Sunday.

“It was unfortunate that the timing of the cancellation was so close to (the) date of the event,” Rolph told me.

He denied it had anything to do with the church being a church. He said the booking should never have been made in the first place because they only allow their facilities to be used by health-related organizations.

“The event is not health related and thus is not compliant with our policy,” Rolph said.

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Todd Starnes

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