Opinion: Churches in residential areas must learn to be good neighbours

Imagine the silence people who live close by churches have enjoyed since President Akufo-Addo ordered all churches to close down from the evening of March 16, 2020.

Opinion: Churches in residential areas must learn to be good neighbours

Imagine how these same people felt when the restriction was eased to allow churches worship on Sundays but with conditions.

After the President Akufo-Addo eased restrictions, some churches opened their doors to their congregants for the first time in a while on June 7, 2020.

Other churches have decided to remain closed while they hold virtual services until further notice.

For a better perspective, I decided to write this piece after churches around my home had closed.

I was hoping the noise would be minimal but I hoped wrongly.

There are 4 churches near my house. One is right behind us, the other is a junction away, the third is adjacent to my house and the fourth is about 5 houses away from mine.

One can hear everything happening in these churches because their speakers are tuned to be loud. There are days I think they want to outdo each other.

On Sunday (June 7, 2020), all four churches started holding services. They all started around the same time and the noise despite everything happening now did not reduce.

Why these churches believe only loud prayers and disturbing the entire neighbourhood is what will make God hear and answer their prayers I do not know.

This does not happen only in my neighbourhood. I know it happens at other places too.

It happens because people who have been employed by the government to sanction such activities are not doing their work well enough.

There are laws on noise making that must be implemented so that residents can have rest.

In Ghana permissible ambient noise as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for residential areas requires that during the day noise levels should not be above 55 decibels during the day and 48 at night (EPA, 2008).

In 2019, an Accra High Court ordered 2 churches at Haatso in the Greater Accra region to pay damages of GHC40,000 (GHC20,000 each) to two residents of the area for excessive noise-making and for being a nuisance.

The two churches were the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) and the Cross Road Community Church Ministries (CRCCM).

The court which was presided over by Mrs Justice Novisi Afua Aryene held that the two churches breached building regulations by using a property situated in a residential area for worship without authorisation and their noise level was excessive and violated the regulations of the EPA.

She further ordered the two churches to comply with Regulation 25 of the EPA Environmental Assessment Regulation 1999, LI 1652.

The court also awarded damages of GHC20,000 in favour of the two residents against the Ga East Municipal Chief Executive.

According to the court, the municipal assembly recklessly disregarded the interest of the two residents — Mrs Patricia Bannerman and Dr Elizabeth Masopeh — and “their rights to quiet enjoyment of their properties”.

This gives everybody going through similar situation some hope.

However, not everybody can afford a lawyer. Not everybody can report these churches to their local authorities who may or may not do anything to stop this nuisance.

Churches cannot continue to disturb the peace of their neighbours. Strict measures that have already been put in place would have to enforced by the government.

The churches located in residential areas would have to be good neighbours and show Christ not only through sermons but their actions.

Pulse Editor's Opinion is the opinion of an editor of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse


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