The City of Houston has abandoned an effort to use eminent domain power to destroy the outdoor ministry area of Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church, a predominantly black church in Houston, Texas’treet Fifth Ward.
The church was represented by the Liberty Institute and volunteer attorneys, who took the case pro bono to save the embattled inner-city church.
“When we moved into this area, it was considered the highest crime rate in the city of Houston,” Bishop Roy Lee Kossie said, explaining why he founded the Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church in the Fifth Ward.
“People shot first and asked questions later. But we loved these people. We loved this community. We knew this was exactly where we needed to be.”
Now age 83, Kossie recently celebrated six decades of service ministering at this church.
But on June 5, 2015, the Houston Housing Authority announced that it was exercising its power of eminent domain to condemn the church’s outdoor ministry area, seizing it to turn it over to for-profit businesses in order to create jobs, stimulate the economy and generate new tax revenue.
On Aug. 4, 2015, Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against the city of Houston, arguing that the city’s actions violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as other legal protections.
A court battle was heating up. But on Nov. 2, the city of Houston announced that it was withdrawing its condemnation action and ending the legal proceedings, forever abandoning the effort to seize part of the church’s property.
Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for Liberty Institute, tells Breitbart News, “Our clients are thrilled that they can continue ministering in the same community where they have been for 60 years without the heavy hand of government threatening to seize their property.”
“We applaud the Housing Authority for making the right decision and respecting the right of this church to continue its ministry in the Fifth Ward,” says Aaron Streett, a partner at the international law firm of Baker Botts and a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. “Churches are vital to our communities and government should never threaten to push churches off their own property.”
“We are overjoyed that we can now continue to minister to the Fifth Ward without fear of losing our property,” Bishop Kossie said today in a statement received by Breitbart News. “This is where the Lord called the Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church to serve and this is where we can now stay.”
Last year, the City of Houston issued subpoenas to five area pastors, demanding that they turn over their sermons and correspondence relating to a transgender bathroom bill. The city eventually withdrew the subpoenas following an intense public backlash.