Some Chicago pastors are pushing for a parking meter reprieve for their respective flocks.
Saying one collection plate is enough for their parishioners, they want the city to consider what churches contribute to city life and ease parking restrictions for their visitors, especially on Sunday mornings.
Among them is the Rev. Larry Rogers of the Israel Methodist Community Church.
While he concedes that there have always been meters in front of the 50-year-old church, he said the spike in the parking rates is akin to "pay to pray."
A year ago, it only cost a quarter to park in front of the church. Now it's $1.25.
Rogers and the Rev. Webb Evans would like the city to remove the meters in front of churchs, and they take issue with the fact that parking meters exist around perimeters of their church lots, but not on neighboring commercial arteries.
“We should have the freedom to go to church without having to pay a meter five or six feet in front of the door," Evans told the Chicago Tribune.
Churches in the business-heavy Loop also want changes.
“We’re not asking for special privileges," the Rev. Philip Blackwell of First United Methodist Church at Chicago Temple said, according to the Trib. "The strange hours that we keep are complementary to the way the rest of the Loop gets used."
A spokesperson for the city of Chicago’s Department of Revenue says the agency makes accommodations on an as-needed basis, but it does not base those needs on what the institutions give back to the community, the newspaper reported.
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