Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Published: November 29, 2011
Bible study not prohibited after all
Facing lawsuit, San Juan Capistrano drops action against couple over weekly meetings at their home

The City of San Juan Capistrano has lifted fines imposed on the owners of a private home used for weekly Bible study and agreed to review its policies after the case ended up in court.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm had been fined $300 and threatened with additional fines of $500 per meeting if they did not stop holding Bible study sessions at their home each Sunday morning without a conditional use permit. When the city initially rejected their appeal, the Pacific Justice Institute stepped in and filed suit on behalf of the couple in Orange County Superior Court.

San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s and is home to California’s oldest building still in use -- a chapel where Father Junipero Serra celebrated Mass.

“The city recently dropped its action against the couple and refunded the fines they had paid,” Pacific Justice Institute said in a Nov. 22 press release. “However, the city has not yet changed its laws that led to the controversy.”

“In a letter to the couple, Karen P. Brust, San Juan Capistrano City Manager, who had been working with the Fromms, also stated, ‘City staff will commence the discussion with the Planning Commission… about the issue of the need to clarify the Land Use Code with respect to places of public assembly and gatherings at single family residences,’” said the PJI press release.

In a Nov. 18 press release, the city of San Juan Capistrano presented the issue a little differently. “Chuck and Stephanie Fromm and San Juan Capistrano City Manager Karen Brust announced Wednesday morning that the case against the City in OC Superior Court, appealing an administrative citation issued to the Fromms, has been dismissed,” said the news release. “The action arose out of a neighbor’s complaint about parking and traffic impacts from Bible studies held at Mr. and Mrs. Fromm’s home, and the City’s subsequent fines and requirement that the couple apply for a Conditional Use Permit. The Fromms stepped back from their appeal as the city has initiated discussions to review their permit policies for home meetings of all types. The original fines have been reversed and repaid to the Fromms.”

The city, said Brust, “does not prohibit does not prohibit Bible studies and believes in the right of all its residents to exercise First Amendment freedoms,” said the news release. "Protecting the rights of the City's residents is paramount," said Brust.

Pacific Justice Institute said in its release that it would keep an eye on the situation. “While that case has now been favorably resolved, PJI will continue to press city officials for a resolution of the underlying problems, which include unfettered discretion on the part of code enforcement officers,” said the release.

“From the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, through the founding of San Juan Capistrano as a mission, the freedom to worship God has been a bedrock American principle,” said PJI president Brad Dacus. “This victory is an important reminder of that principle.”

“We will continue fighting to ensure that SJC and other cities put freedom first -- especially when it comes to informal gatherings in private homes,” said Michael Peffer, who heads PJI’s Southern California office and handled the case.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


AFRICAN CHRISTIANITY RISING: Stories from Ghana--Opening. © 2010, James Ault Productions from james ault on Vimeo.

The opening from a soon-to-be-released film in a two-part series on Christianity's explosive growth in Africa and its meaning for the world community and the world church. (The other is "Stories from Zimbabwe".) From footage shot in 1998 in Ghana and 2006 in Ghana and the USA. Principal camera, Tom Hurwitz. Additional camera, William Sefa and Jim Ault. Sound, Francis Kwakye. Principal editor, Kate Purdie. Initial editing, Jean Boucicaut. (roughcut/ 75:22) © 2010, James Ault Productions.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Sunday November 6, 2011

3:15 pm – Procession begins at San Diego Rescue Mission
4:00 pm – Candlelight Vigil at:

San Diego County Administration Center
West Side on Harbor Drive
1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, 92101

A procession to the vigil will depart from the San Diego Rescue Mission at 3:15 pm and walk approximately a mile stopping for prayers at 3 churches and ministry sites in the procession to the County Building. Sixty-one persons in the procession will carry a pair of shoes which represent the 54 male and 7 female homeless individuals who died on the streets of San Diego County in the last year. The candlelight vigil program at the County Building begins at 4:00 pm. The interfaith event is designed to create awareness for the 10,000 men, women and children living each day homeless in San Diego that should not have to die on the streets.

This year marks our 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil, which honors the men and women who die, homeless and alone, on the streets each year.

Last year more than 200 caring community members honored the 44 men and 6 women who passed away. Several participants carried a pair of shoes with a tag attached, listing each deceased person’s name. The candlelight vigil began when the procession arrived at the San Diego County Building. Each individual’s name was read aloud.

Visit this page again soon to learn the details of this year’s event.
2010 Vigil Media Coverage
10 News – Vigil Honors Homeless Who Have Died On San Diego Streets  
NBC San Diego – The Changing Face of Homelessness