CHATHAM — The pending move of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church has some of its future neighbors worried about parking on Sundays.
"I don't want to complain because it is a church, but at the same time I don't want to be inconvenienced either," said Angelo Holman, a 32-year old massage therapist, who lives in the 8300 block South of State Street. "I have lived here my whole life and parking has never been a problem especially on Sundays, but with this new church moving down the street that could change."
Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, announced Sunday the church would move from its current location at 4543 S. Princeton Ave. to 8522 S. Lafayette Ave. thanks to 14.5 acres donated to by Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. based in Oklahoma City, Okla.
And he said traffic jams won't be a problem either.
"We have had productive conversations with the community, and alleviated general fears as we are sensitive to this concern," Jenkins said. "Yet we are optimistic that we will only complement the retail corridor, creating more jobs, services and amenities for the community while intently working to ensure we are very good neighbors."
Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st), said residents' fears are overblown.
"They (residents) said the same thing when Walmart was building, that there would be no parking. Fellowship is building an 800-space parking lot and if that gets full then an agreement has been made to use the ICE Chatham movie theater parking lot next door since most folks are not at the show that early on a Sunday," Brookins said.
But some remain unconvinced.
Nick Parker is a 53-year old postal employee who also lives near the church's new location, and enjoys parking in front of his home.
"I don't have a garage so if I cannot park out front I would have to park around the corner and that will piss me off," Parker angrily said. "It's bad enough Walmart is around the corner bringing additional traffic through the area but at least Walmart shoppers have somewhere to park and not in front of my house."
The new church would have a parking lot but Candice Lewis, 36, said "it probably won't be able to accommodate all their members as most church parking lots don't."
Lewis, a registered nurse and Chatham resident for 11 years, plans to meet with Brookins, whose 21st Ward includes portions of Chatham, to see if State Street could be designated permit parking.
"This way, you would need a permit to park on this street and you cannot get one if you are not a resident," added Lewis. "I work funny hours including on Sundays and I need to be able to park in front of my home. Don't get me wrong, I love the Lord too but I also love my parking space."