Olive Branch church ordered to quiet "joyful noise"

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Facebook

OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC-TV) - The doors of Living by the Word Christian Center were closed by the City of Olive Branch less than two months after they opened.

"I did pray about it," said Pastor Bruce Branch.

Branch is now praying he can meet new demands.

"We believe this is a location God would have us to be," said Branch.

City officials ruled Thursday night that Branch's church cannot reopen until he makes the sound of worship services less loud.

"As people of God, believe we should make a joyful noise," said Branch.

But some people in the nearby Morgan Manor neighborhood considered that noise annoying and complained to the city.

"The drums are tremendously loud and there's no insulation in that building at all," said neighbor Lauren Walker.

The building that houses the church was not constructed with worship in mind.  It was most recently home to a company called Carson Electric.

"At first, we didn't know whether it was a church or nightclub trying to start," said neighbor James Luster.

He and his wife Linda live directly behind the building.

"We kept hearing a little more and a little more," said Linda Luster.  "And finally said, 'it's coming from back behind us.'"

Pastor Branch apologized to the Lusters and some others and hopes everyone will end up friends.

"Nothing comes good without a fight or challenge," said Branch.  "And it's a challenge I'm willing to take on."

In addition to better sound proofing, Branch must also apply for occupancy permits and pave the parking lot before reopening.  The small church expects to spend thousands of dollars.

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