Beaumont Church Given Noise Restrictions
My colleague Erin Waldner had an interesting story about how the city of Beaumont is cracking down on a church for its noise.
The city is requiring the mostly Latino New Life Chapel to finish its services by 8 p.m. Neighbors say the church was being used as often as four times a week until as late as 11 p.m.
The church is in a residential neighborhood and uses loudspeakers and drums in its services. The city is barring amplified or band music until the church sanctuary is better sound-proofed.
George Lopez, a church member who in an appearance this week before the city planning commission agreed to make whatever changes that are requested, suggested racism could be a factor in the numerous complaints.
Neighbors say noise is the issue, not the ethnicity of congregants (Lopez said the neighbors are exaggerating the level of sound and said the church put foam in the windows to reduce the noise impact on neighbors).
Hispanic – and, for that matter, black – Protestants often prefer more vibrant worship services than their Anglo counterparts.
“The black and brown services are very extroverted and passionate in worship style and the response to preaching,” the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told me last year.
Many Protestant Latino churches are, like New Life, small and in residential neighborhoods. Others are in strip malls or other locations.
The intimacy of the congregations are part of their appeal. Many churchgoers – whether Latino or not – prefer to worship with a small group of people they can get to know well rather than in a megachurch where they may feel lost in the crowd.
Many of these small churches have services throughout the week rather than just on Sunday. The situation in Beaumont shows the tension that emerges when a church is in a quiet residential area where neighboring families may not appreciate lively praise music when they’re getting ready for bed.