Texas Church to Remain at Public Housing Unit

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Residents at a public housing complex in Dallas are headed back to church after almost losing the right to worship in their facility.

For 14 years, Rev. Pamela Clark of Lake Highlands United Methodist has brought Sunday morning worship to residents at Audelia Manor. Many who live there are elderly or disabled and can't get out easily.

But recently, the Dallas Housing Authority ordered Rev. Clark to end worship, saying the services violated the separation of church and state.

"It is definitely an offsite campus where we are all one body of believers," Rev. Clark said.

DHA President MaryAnn Russ, however, later reversed the decision saying she had made a mistake.

"Rather than being constitutional issues, I'd characterize it as being language issues," Russ told The Associated Press.

It appears the Fair Housing Act does allow religious activity in common areas of public housing, as long as it does not result in unequal treatment of residents.

And the watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it doesn't oppose the church holding services at the housing complex as long as federal funds are not used.

"I take full responsibility for the fact that this was so badly handled," Russ said. "This was our fault."

Worship service attendees were elated at the news.

"That's what makes my week," Audelia Manor resident Sammie Holmes. "It might be one thing they said on Sunday that carries me through the whole week to deal with the rough things in life."

"God is good and it was figured out," Rev. Clark said.

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