Church sends kids away

Staff WriterAugust 18, 2009 

— One church has dealt with a new law banning sex offenders from within 300 feet of child-care facilities by moving children's programs off site.

St. John's Metropolitan Community Church on Glenwood Avenue made the decision last fall, because one of its members would have had to stop worshipping on Sundays.

"At our church we believe that we should have the doors open to everybody," said member Stan Kimer, first vice president of the N.C. Council of Churches. "That's one of the purposes of church is to take people in that society might reject. ... You're almost taking someone who's down and preventing him from doing the things he needs to do to move on with his life."

With their parents

Kimer said St. John's typically has fewer than 10 children at a service. They usually stay in the sanctuary with their parents during worship anyway, leaving only for occasional special programs. Such special events now occur while the sex offender is not present or at off-site locations such as parents' homes.

The offender was convicted of indecent liberties with a child, obscene literature and immorality with a minor in 1986 and second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in 1997, according to state records.

Kimer said the man has been out of prison for several years and helps to lead music, teach adult classes and serve the church in other ways.

"He wanted to change his life," said Kimer. "His being at church was a very important part of his rehabilitation."

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

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