In March, Walton County commissioners changed the distance businesses that sell alcohol must remain from schools and churches from 1,320 feet to 500 feet. However, Hope Lutheran Church in Gulf Place still disagreed with that decision, but instead of increased, they wanted the distance-restriction lifted.
Ray Angerman, pastor at Hope Lutheran Church, says, "The very law that was protecting churches was restricting churches and schools, particularly our church being here at Gulf Place. As you can see it’s very close quarters and in order for a move into this community they would have to be 500 feet from our building, which makes it difficult.”
So difficult that the church received an eviction notice, but Pastor Angerman wanted to work with the community so he took his case to the county commission. Last week they voted three to two to allow churches to wave the alcohol ordinance if they see fit.
District 4 Commissioner Ro Chucens voted against the measure. Tuesday, he said his reasoning was to prevent churches from being seen as the bad guy if they decide not to waive the ordinance, but Pastor Angerman maintains his mission is not to dictate growth.
“We believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and we also believe in being part of the community, being in the community, to affect the community so no better place to be than here.”
Ironically, the Hope Lutheran Church plans to move into a new building where the alcohol ordinance won't matter in about a year.