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Durham church's neighbors pray for peace and quiet

Posted February 1, 2013

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— Residents of the Hills at Southpoint neighborhood in south Durham told a Superior Court judge on Friday that the praise occurring in a nearby church is a bit loud and needs to be toned down.

Hundreds of people attend Sunday services at Newhope Church, at 7619 Fayetteville Road, which include 20 minutes of worship music.

"It's typically a thumping bass that penetrates our homes and property," said Greg Prospero, one of the nearby residents who took the church to court to settle noise complaints.

Another resident, who is pregnant, was in tears after the court hearing, saying she feared her baby would be repeatedly awakened by the church music.

The residents want the church to pull the plug on amplified music and limit percussion for 10 days while both sides figure out an appropriate level for the music. Judge Bryan Collins said he wanted to review information presented by both sides before ruling Feb. 18.

Church officials said they have made several attempts to reduce the sound since 2011, including hiring sound engineers who have run tests as recently as last Sunday.

Newhope Church in Durham Durham church says its praise isn't noisy

The engineers concluded that the sound during church services was less than 60 decibels at the church's property line, which is allowable under Durham's noise ordinance.

Rev. Benji Kelley, pastor of Newhope Church, said in an affidavit that the church also has installed sound-absorbing material inside and plans a major renovation that would line offices along exterior walls to reduce noise levels outside further.

"The sound levels coming from the church are not unreasonably loud or disturbing," Kelley said. "Although we have been and remain in compliance with applicable law, we are neighbors to the five families who have filed this lawsuit. We are making modifications to our church building plans to include sound attenuation materials, not because of legal necessity but out of love for our neighbors."

Church spokeswoman Renita McCrary said Friday that she and others have gone to some Hills at Southpoint homes during services to check on sound levels.

"I didn't hear anything unreasonable," McCrary said, adding that some nearby residents also have attended services to hear the music inside the church. "We're just looking forward to getting this done, making sure we get the word out that we love God."

16 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 5, 2:11 p.m.

    God must be hard of hearing. He needs you to scream, shout and amplify your music.

    And, make it loud enough so everyone hears you...sees you...and can't ignore you. Why else would you crank up the worship volume to anti-LoveThyNeighbor, anti-DoUntoOthers volumes?

  • itneverchanges Feb 5, 8:30 a.m.

    Just a shock and awe from the pulpit. If the message was real then it wouldn't need to be blasted upon the group.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 4, 6:02 p.m.

    If you want absolute peace and quiet, buy an isolated house in the remote country side, not in the city limits in a subdivision in where the houses are 20' apart.

  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 4, 2:32 p.m.

    How loud do you need to be for God to hear you?

  • goalflinger Feb 4, 1:06 p.m.

    I agree with TriangleMommy. I have been in that church too and have friends who are members. I was there Sunday morning. They have done some minor things to lessen the sound, however it is still "way" too loud. One low volume song does not a reasonable worship service volume make. My argument is (with many scripture to support it) and always will be: If you love your neighbor as yourself, then you will not harrass them in any way. You will set a good example instead of a bad example ESPECIALLY if you are a true church, and not HAVE to be dragged into court. Perhaps the mantra over the entrance of the church "Reach, Teach & Release" should also include "Practice what you Preach" I can imagine that the HIGHWAY TO HELL is ideed a noisy place. I guess you expect me to say, "Thank you."

  • TriangleMommy Feb 4, 12:39 p.m.

    I've been in that church, and the music is so loud you would think you are at a rock concert.

    Sad to think the Church is more worried about their music than their relationship with their community.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 4, 11:48 a.m.

    Why have a set decibel level for a noise ordinance if you can still be cited for "unreasonable and disturbing" noise levels? How vague is that? Who is it that determines what is "unreasonable and disturbing"? I have never understood those that live in the city and complain about noise, and yes, I live in the city and hear noise all the time.

  • beach2011 Feb 4, 11:04 a.m.

    If your church is bothering an entire neighborhood - you are not honoring GOD - what is up with that. God can hear you even when you whisper!! : ) That is all man made ego -

  • superman Feb 4, 11:02 a.m.

    Just turn the music DOWN. If we dont go to church there--we dont want to hear your music. Please love me a "little" more and turn down the racket.

  • mollystillman Feb 4, 10:27 a.m.

    I am a member of newhope and I gracefully and respectfully stand with our church. Here is a video that a neighbor took of the noise and a decibel level meter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D5UfP-PXFo - As you can see, in the video, the neighbor is in his backyard with the meter measuring the sound level at the property line. I would genuinely wonder if any of you can HONESTLY hear anything that is louder than the birds and the wind. Is there faint music? Yes, but the birds and wind are no quieter. And frankly, I would have to think that if I were to step inside, I wouldn't hear anything. I know the heart of our church and our church LOVES our neighbors as ourselves and seeks to make this right in every way possible. Our goal is to serve and love the community, not create enemies. Don't believe me? Come visit our church on a Sunday morning for a service and you will see exactly what I mean. We are a community of Christ-loving, people-loving individuals.

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