The Town of Cicero ordered a church closed immediately Thursday for allegedly ignoring life-threatening physical hazards.
Cicero officials accused Bishop Herman Jackson, who runs Arch of Safety Apostolic Faith Temple, of ignoring safety hazards, which include a lack of water, electricity and heat in the church. Officials at the Cicero Building Department allowed Jackson to conduct limited religious services under the condition that he would restore water, electricity and heat to the property, which includes a church and a daycare center.
"We have bent over backwards to help the pastor keep his church open because we care about the congregation," Ray Hanania, a Cicero town spokesman, said. "Last Sunday, we allowed services in the church portion of the building, which also includes a shuttered daycare center, on his promise that he would have contractors make repairs this week. Nothing has been done."
Hanania called the church "a safety nightmare," adding that it also has damaged and collapsed ceilings, water and mold in the walls, garbage strewn throughout and broken exit and emergency signs.
Jackson already faces charges for allegedly defrauding the State of Illinois child daycare funds. The court allowed him to travel to his church in Cicero so he could conduct Sunday services.
"We have urged him to find another church in Cicero to conduct his religious services and again have offered to allow the church services to be held Sunday morning if he can get the heater repaired and safe," Hanania said.
The town has given Jackson until 5 p.m. Saturday to correct the safety issues. If he does not comply, officials said they will board up the building.